Heart disease mortality rate in people with rheumatoid arthritis is declining, study reveals

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Nov 10, 2015 06:00 AM EST

Rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases are closely associated from one another. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been shown to have higher risks of developing heart disease—around two times more likely compared to those who are RA-free. Be that as it may, a new study shows that the heart disease mortality rate in people with RA is going down.

Thanks largely to the preventive measures taken against heart ailments and the stronger efforts to diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases nowadays, the number of deaths has gone down over the years. These latest research findings were just one among the different Mayo Clinic studies presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, according to a public release from EurekAlert.

"More research is needed to confirm why heart disease deaths among rheumatoid arthritis patients have declined," said lead author Elena Myasoedova, M.D., Ph.D., a rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "But, potential factors include earlier and more vigilant screening for heart problems, improved treatment for heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and in general, more attention to heart health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis."

For this rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease research, the team from Mayo Clinic considered two groups of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. One group is consists of 315 patients diagnosed with RA between 2000 and 2007 while the other group was diagnosed in the 1980s and 1990s and has 498 RA patients. The researchers, then, looked into the number of deaths related to heart disease within 10 years of RA diagnosis.

Among the RA patients studied, whose average age is 60 years old and about two-thirds were female, the group of RA patients diagnosed more recently between 2000 and 2007 has 2.8 percent rate of heart disease deaths. This is significantly lower compared to those from the other group diagnosed in the '80s and '90s which have 7.9 percent mortality rate, Philly.com also reported.

One particular form of heart disease, the coronary artery disease, was also analyzed by the researchers in this study among the rheumatoid arthritis patients. And, the result on this one corroborates the findings that there is, indeed, a decline in the mortality rate of patients with RA within 10 years after diagnosis. Those diagnosed in the 2000's group has 1.2 percent rate of coronary artery disease deaths while those from the '90s group registered a higher rate of 4.7 percent.

Mayo Clinic rheumatologists and cardiologists established Mayo's Cardio-Rheumatology Clinic a couple of years back in order to pioneer new heart disease diagnostic, prevention and treatment tools for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. This study is part of their long-term efforts to further understand the link between heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and hopefully, break them one day.

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