Systemic inflammation may be a common process that underpins both atherosclerosis and extra-articular features (ExRA) of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We evaluated the relationship between ExRA and arterial dysfunction in 114 consecutive patients with RA (82% women) without overt arterial disease aged 40-65 years. A trained research nurse undertook 'SphygmoCor' pulse wave analysis (PWA) using radial applanation tonometry to measure the extent (augmentation index, AIX%) and timing (reflected wave transit time, RWT, msec) of aortic wave reflection. Assessment included fasting blood sample, patient questionnaire and medical record review. Mean differences were adjusted for age, sex, mean blood pressure, smoking pack-years, fasting cholesterol, Stanford HAQ score and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Mean age was 54 (SD 7) and median RA duration 10 (IQR 4-17) years. There was a trend for arterial dysfunction (higher AIX%; lower RWT) to increase as the number of ExRA features rose, but no difference in AIX% (-0.5, 95%CI -2.8 to 1.8, P = 0.65) or RWT (0.3 ms, 95%CI -3.6 to 4.2, P = 0.86) between 'any ExRA' and 'no ExRA'. Arterial dysfunction was not associated with the presence of rheumatoid nodules, Sjogren's syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome. Our study was too small to determine whether severe ('Malmo') ExRA (vasculitis, pericarditis, episcleritis) was truly associated with a higher AIX% (3.8, 95%CI -2.3 to 9.9, P = 0.22) and lower RWT (-5.5 ms 95%CI -13.1 to 2.1, P = 0.16). While arterial dysfunction may be associated with the number of ExRA features and severe ExRA, it does not appear to be associated with other ExRA features.
- rheumatoid arthritis
- extra-articular features
- cardiovascular disease
- cardiovascular risk factors
Crilly, M. A., Kumar, V., Clark, H. J., Williams, D. J., & Macdonald, A. G. (2012). Relationship between arterial dysfunction and extra-articular features in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology International, 32(6), 1761-1768. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-011-1902-2