Indians with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) have a four-fold risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), a new study containing a huge database of such patients has found.

While Indians generally had two-times higher risk for CVD compared to Caucasians, the latest study found a “dramatic increase” in all CVD risk factors, according to Dr. Firdaus Fatima, consultant rheumatologist at AB Rheumatology Centre here and honorary lecturer in rheumatology at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

The study was conducted under the supervision of Professor Robert J. Moots, Head, Department of Infection and Immunity, University of Liverpool, Dr. Nicola J. Goodson, senior lecturer at the same university and Dr. U. Ramakrishna Rao, past president of Indian Rheumatology Association.

In the study conducted in Hyderabad, traditional CVD risk factors in 800 patients with RA and an equal number of matched controls were looked into. The mean age was 46 years and as many as 666 people in both the groups were women.

At a press conference here on Thursday, Dr. Fatima said multiple risk factors for CVD were manifesting a decade earlier among Indians and those associated with metabolic syndromes like hypertension and diabetes were highly prevalent. Similarly, RA too was starting a decade earlier at around 20 years among Indians and its prevalence was 0.75 per cent.

Apart from the traditional risk factors for CVD, the effects of chronic system inflammation or its treatment might have contributed to the increased risk. The co-morbidities associated with RA include elevated total cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL and hypertension.

Professor Robert J. Moots described the findings as “pretty scary” and said that they could be extrapolated to the rest of India and South Asia. He said aggressive treatment for RA and modification of lifestyle would reduce the CVD risk factors.

  • In Hyderabad, traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors in 800 patients with RA

  • Multiple risk factors for CVD manifesting a decade earlier among Indians