[Atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis: relationships between intima-media thickness of the common carotid arteries and disease activity and disability]

G Cuomo, P Di Micco, A Niglio, G La Montagna, G Valentini
Reumatismo 2004, 56 (4): 242-6

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the intima-media thickness of the common carotid arteries (IMT-CCA) in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and its relationships with classical atherosclerosis risk factors and disease features i.e. duration, activity and disability.

METHODS: 48 RA patients (35 F, 13 M; age ed 26-69 years median 55; disease duration 1-18 years, median 8), and 22 controls (16 F, 6 M; age 28-66, median 50) matched for classical atherosclerosis risk factors, i.e. age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, familiarity, and for postmenopausal status, were studied. IMT and plaques were measured in the left and right common carotid arteries. Serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apoliporotein AI, apolipoprotein B, and rheumatoid factor were determined in patients and controls. The DAS28, the HAQ-DI and disease duration were considered as clinical parameters reflecting disease status.

RESULTS: The IMT-CCA (mean +/- SD) was significantly greater in the 48 RA patients than in the 22 controls subjects (1.00+/-0.25 vs. 0.78+/-0.21; p=0.0007). In the 70 subjects investigated CCA-IMT resulted to be significantly correlated with diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, triglyceride and RA status. In the 48 RA patients no correlation was detected with either disease duration or activity or disability.

CONCLUSION: our study confirms an increased IMT in RA patients without any clinically evident manifestation of cardiovascular disease. It supports the existence of subclinical atherosclerosis in RA.

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