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Scand J Rheumatol. 2012 May;41(3):186-91. doi: 10.3109/03009742.2011.626443. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Metabolic syndrome prevalence is increased in rheumatoid arthritis patients and is associated with disease activity.

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Division of Rheumatology, Clinical Hospital of Porto Alegre and Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul , Brazil.



To evaluate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) vs. controls, and to verify possible associations of MetS with specific disease-related factors.


The subjects were 283 RA patients and 226 healthy controls, frequency matched by age and sex. MetS was defined according to National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria. Disease activity was evaluated with the Disease Activity Score using 28 joints (DAS28). A standardized clinical evaluation was performed and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed.


The criteria for MetS were met by 39.2% RA patients vs. 19.5% in the control group (p < 0.001). Increased waist circumference, elevated blood pressure (BP), and fasting glucose were more frequent in RA patients than controls (p < 0.001 for all associations). By multiple logistic regression analysis (adjusted for age, sex, and years at school), the risk of having MetS was significantly higher for RA patients than for controls [odds ratio (OR) 1.87, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.17-3.00, p = 0.009]. The DAS28 was significantly higher in RA patients with MetS than in those without MetS (3.59 ± 1.27 vs. 3.14 ± 1.53; p = 0.01). Disease duration, the presence of rheumatoid factor, and extra-articular manifestations were similar for patients with and without MetS.


MetS frequency was higher in RA patients than in controls. Among RA patients, MetS was associated with disease activity. The higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in RA suggests that inflammatory processes play a notable role in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and indicates that tight control of systemic inflammatory activity and CVD modifiable risk factors should be recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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