Relationship between arterial stiffness and Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire disability in rheumatoid arthritis patients without overt arterial disease

Michael A Crilly, Hazel J Clark, Vinod V Kumar, Neil W Scott, Alan G Macdonald, David J Williams

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OBJECTIVE: To quantify the relationship between Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) disability and arterial stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: A consecutive series of 114 patients with RA but without overt arterial disease, aged 40-65 years, were recruited from rheumatology clinics. A research nurse measured blood pressure (BP), arterial stiffness (heart rate-adjusted augmentation index), fasting lipids, glucose, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and rheumatoid factor (RF). A self-completed patient questionnaire included HAQ, damaged joint count, EuroQol measure of health outcome, and Godin physical activity score. Multiple linear regression (MLR) adjusted for age, sex, smoking pack-years, cholesterol, mean arterial BP, physical activity, daily fruit and vegetable consumption, arthritis duration, ESR, and RA criteria. RESULTS: Mean age was 54 years (81% women) with a median HAQ of 1.13 (interquartile range 0.50; 1.75). Median RA duration was 10 years, 83% were RF-positive, and median ESR was 16 mm/h. Mean arterial stiffness was 31.5 (SD 7.7), BP 125/82 mm Hg, cholesterol 5.3 mmol/l, and 24% were current smokers. Current therapy included RA disease-modifying agents (90%), prednisolone (11%), and antihypertensive therapy (18%). Arterial stiffness was positively correlated with HAQ (r = 0.42; 95% CI 0.25 to 0.56). On MLR, a 1-point increase in HAQ disability was associated with a 2.8 increase (95% CI 1.1 to 4.4; p = 0.001) in arterial stiffness. Each additional damaged joint was associated with a 0.17 point increase (95% CI 0.04 to 0.29; p = 0.009) in arterial stiffness. The relationship between EuroQol and arterial stiffness was not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: In patients with RA who are free of overt arterial disease, higher RA disability is associated with increased arterial stiffness independently of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and RA characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-952
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number5
Early online date15 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010



  • cardiovascular disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • disability evaluation
  • arteries

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