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Family History Linked to Heart Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fatal cardiovascular disease risk 70 percent higher among patients with a parent who died from the disease

FRIDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than the general population, but the risk is even higher if they have a family history of heart disease, according to a report in the June issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Lena Bjornadal, M.D., Ph.D., from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues used Swedish health registers to conduct a population-based cohort study assessing the clinical impact of a parental history of cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Including a total of 10,805 Swedish patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the study revealed a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 2.9 for death from cardiovascular disease in those patients who had a parent die from the condition, compared with a 1.7 SMR in those with no family history of cardiovascular disease.

"Our study suggests that a parental history of fatal cardiovascular disease may signal an additional increase in the already increased risk of cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis, and highlights the importance of including an assessment of cardiovascular risk factors among patients with this disease," the authors conclude.

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