Rheumatoid Arthritis and Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Eric Matteson, M.D. Rheumatology Chair Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Eric Matteson, M.D.
Rheumatology Chair
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

MedicalResearch.com:   What are the main findings of the studies?

Dr. Matteson: “The main finding is that patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of heart disease.  Further, women who experience early menopause also have a higher risk of heart disease.”

MedicalResearch.com:  Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Matteson: “We suspected that patients with worse disease would have higher risk, but did not actually know this.  As well, we thought that early menopause might suggest lower estrogen exposure which could be a risk factor for heart disease, but we were not clear if this would increase or decrease risk.”

MedicalResearch.com:   What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Matteson: “Patients with rheumatoid arthritis should have a heightened awareness of their risk of heart disease over and above the usual risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Particularly patients with more severe disease should be aware of this risk and together with their physicians take steps to evaluate the risks.  This is perhaps true also for women with RA who have undergone early menopause. The latter is of interest also because in the past estrogen replacement had been suggested to reduce the risk of heart disease, but because of side effects is not pursued today as a general recommendation.”

MedicalResearch.com:  What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Matteson: “We need to better understand how therapy for rheumatoid arthritis may influence the long-term risk of heart disease, by reducing the burden of the rheumatoid arthritis itself. We also need to find better predictors including biomarkers which might be predictive of heart disease risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have no apparent other risk factors.”


Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting Fall, 2014

Mayo Clinic (2013, October 27). Dangerous connection between rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/10/131027123153.htm

Last Updated on March 19, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD