Working with a team of cardiologists, rheumatologists, and nurses, the researchers reviewed the medical records of every study participant, with attention to personal and family history of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and atherosclerotic heart disease, including heart attacks and angina. They also examined data collected on cigarette smoking status, body mass index, and other established risk factors for heart disease. For the foundation of their analysis and comparison, the researchers had access to a median of 26 years of complete medical history before baseline, plus a median of 15 years of follow-up.
During the follow-up period, a total of 165 patients with RA and 115 individuals without RA had a confirmed diagnosis of CHF. After adjusting for cardiovascular-related risk factors and any occurrence of atherosclerotic heart disease, past or present, researchers found that RA patients had twice the risk for CHF compared with the control subjects. This finding remained consistent for all ages, in both sexes, and consistently throughout the duration of RA disease. Among RA patients, the risk was higher in those who were RF positive.
As researcher Paulo Nicola, M.D., notes, this study not only provides evidence for RA as a significant independent risk factor for heart failure but also lends support to the role of systemic inflammation in th
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