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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001 Jun;40(6):640-4.

Cardiovascular risk factors, including thrombotic variables, in a population with rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 84 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF, UK.



To compare prevalent cardiovascular disease, conventional cardiovascular risk factors and thrombotic variables in a cohort with well-controlled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in population controls.


Seventy-six RA patients and 641 controls, randomly sampled from the local population in the North Glasgow MONICA study. Conventional cardiovascular risk factors (blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol) and thrombotic variables [fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor (vWF), tissue plasminogen activator antigen (t-PA), fibrin D-dimer, plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1), plasma viscosity] were measured by standard procedures.


RA patients had a significantly higher prevalence of angina pectoris (P=0.03). Stroke also tended to be more common in the RA group, but the difference did not reach statistical significance (P=0.08). Diastolic blood pressure was significantly higher and serum cholesterol significantly lower in the RA group than in controls. Current smoking habits and exercise history were similar in the two groups, although RA patients were more likely to have previously smoked. Significant elevations in several thrombotic predictors of cardiovascular disease (fibrinogen, vWF, t-PA antigen and fibrin D-dimer) were found in the RA group.


In this RA patient population, diastolic blood pressure was higher than in controls and thrombotic variables were elevated compared with controls. These features are identified as potential additional cardiovascular risk factors in the RA patients studied. Prospective studies of risk modification may permit the identification of factors which could lead to a reduction in the known increased cardiovascular risk in RA.

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