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Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients at Greater Risk After First MI

Study shows 30-day mortality rate after first myocardial infarction nearly twofold higher in rheumatoid arthritis patients

THURSDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of death from their first acute cardiovascular event compared with people in the general population, according to a report in the July issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

S. Van Doornum, M.D., from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues examined 30-day mortality rates after a first stroke or myocardial infarction using discharge data from 29,924 patients, 359 of whom had rheumatoid arthritis.

The investigators found that 17.6 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients died within 30-days of their first acute cardiovascular event compared with 10.8 percent of those without rheumatoid arthritis, giving an adjusted odds ratio for death of 1.6. The excess deaths seen in the rheumatoid arthritis group were mostly accounted for by deaths after myocardial infarction, since the separate odds ratios for death after myocardial infarction and stroke were 1.9 and 1.2, respectively.

Identifying the causative factors responsible for this increased risk "in combination with ongoing vigilance in cardiovascular risk factor screening and management and aggressive control of joint and systemic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, will be required to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death associated with this chronic disease," the authors conclude.

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