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J Rheumatol. 2005 Dec;32(12):2311-6.

Lipid profiles among US elderly with untreated rheumatoid arthritis--the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Recent studies suggest that patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have adverse serum lipid profiles. We examined lipid profiles among individuals with RA in a national sample of persons aged 60 years and older.


Using data from 4862 participants (2379 men and 2483 women) aged 60 years and older in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-94), we examined lipid profiles among participants with RA who met the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 1987 criteria and who were not taking glucocorticoids or disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD).


Participants with RA had lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and apolipoprotein A-I concentrations than those without RA. After adjusting for age and sex, the differences in HDL-C level between those with and those without RA were 2.5 mg/dl (95% CI 0.8 to 4.9) using > or = 3 of the ACR criteria (n of RA cases = 104) and 8.8 mg/dl (95% CI 3.2 to 14.3) using > or = 4 criteria (n of RA cases = 26). Adjusting for age, sex, race, education, smoking status, body mass index, alcohol consumption, physical activity, dietary factors, and other potential confounders attenuated the differences slightly. The multivariate difference in serum apolipoprotein A-I levels between those with and those without RA was 4.5 mg/dl (95% CI -0.8 to 9.8) using > or = 3 ACR criteria and 13.6 mg/dl (95% CI 3.2 to 24.1) using > or = 4 criteria. All individual RA disease activity measures tended to have inverse relations with HDL-C levels, but significant inverse associations were present only with the following variables: C-reactive protein [CRP; multivariate difference per 1 mg/dl of CRP, -1.3 mg/dl (95% CI -2.0 to -0.5)], presence of hand arthritis [-2.6 mg/dl (95% CI -5.0 to -0.2)], and positive rheumatoid factor [-3.4 mg/dl (95% CI -5.5 to -1.3)].


These national survey data indicate that RA not treated with DMARD or glucocorticoids is associated with adverse lipid profiles characterized by lower HDL-C and apolipoprotein A-I levels in persons aged > or = 60 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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