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Arthroplasty for rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t boost cardiovascular risk

Rheumatology News—February 28, 2014

During a recent 15-year period in which the annual arthroplasty rate for osteoarthritis and other noninflammatory arthritides doubled, the arthroplasty rate for rheumatoid arthritis actually declined. Moreover, the mean age at the time of arthroplasty for RA rose.

"In a time frame when utilization of total knee and total hip replacement for osteoarthritis is really skyrocketing, with younger and younger patients, I think this speaks to something pretty good going on with our RA patients," Dr. Susan M. Goodman observed at the Winter Rheumatology Symposium sponsored by the American College of Rheumatology.

She presented data from a soon to be published study of nearly 2.8 million arthroplasties included in 10 state databases. The arthroplasty rate for noninflammatory arthritis – the great majority of which is osteoarthritis (OA) – zoomed from 124.5/100,000 population in 1991 to 247.5/100,000 in 2005.

Meanwhile the rate of arthroplasty for RA fell slightly, albeit statistically significantly, from 4.6 to 4.5 per 100,000. The mean age at the time of arthroplasty for RA rose from 63.4 years in 1991 to 64.9 years in 2005, reported Dr. Goodman, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

She turned to data from other sources to address issues related to the morbidity of arthroplasty for RA.

For example, it’s well documented that rheumatoid arthritis is associated with elevated cardiovascular risk, such that the typical RA patient has a cardiovascular morbidity burden comparable to that of someone without RA who’s 5 years older. So what does this mean for the many RA patients who come into the hospital for total hip or knee replacement?

Surprisingly, nothing. That is, data from multiple sources indicate RA patients are at no greater perioperative risk of cardiovascular events than are patients with OA undergoing the same procedures.

The take-away message? "Clearly we’re doing something right in managing our patients with RA," Dr. Goodman commented.

This story originally appeared at rheumatologynews.com (subscription required).


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