Rheumatoid arthritis ups risk of blood clots–study

New research suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis are at somewhat higher risk of developing blood clots in their veins than those without the disorder.

The study found patients ailing from the joint disorder were more than three times as likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and twice as likely to develop pulmonary embolism (PE).

Researchers attribute changes in blood flow and coagulation caused by chronic inflammation as the culprit behind the health hazard.

Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with wear-and-tear which can trigger inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility. Blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis are usually located in the leg or thigh. If the clot travels to the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism. The clots can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Study details
In order to better understand the risk between rheumatoid arthritis and blood clots the researchers in Taiwan conducted a study.

They tracked 29,238 people (mean age at diagnosis was 52 years and 77 percent were women) with rheumatoid arthritis with116952 healthy people of similar age and sex from1998 and 2010. Around 463 cases of DVT and 209 cases of pulmonary embolism were documented during the study period.

Findings of the study
After taking into account risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart failure and fractures into account, the analysis revealed patients with rheumatoid arthritis patients had a 3.4-fold higher risk of DVT and a 2.1-fold greater chance of pulmonary embolism than their healthy counterparts.

It was noted that patients with the painful disorder below 50 years were more likely to develop DVT and pulmonary embolism than those aged between 50 and 65.

Lead author of the study, Wei-Sheng Chung of the Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology stated, “These findings highlight the importance of a multidisciplinary team adopting an integrated approach to the intervention of potential risk factors among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Future research concerning rheumatoid arthritis severity scale, such as disease activity, functional impairment and physical damage, are warranted.”

The study has been published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.