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Jul 4, 2005 | A team of researchers from Emory University, under Dr. Cornelia A. Weyand, has released the results of study which found RA to be an independent risk factor for multi-vessel CAD. These findings are consistent with those of other studies which have linked RA to increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease such as congestive heart failure.

The study, which is published in the June 29 issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy, suggests that cardiovascular screening should be incorporated into standard care of RA patients.

Thus, Dr. Weyand concludes: “The fact that rheumatoid arthritis predisposes to coronary artery disease needs to be an integral part of management…Doctor’s and patients need to be vigilant and patients, even those who are asymptomatic, need to be screened for coronary artery disease…Coronary Artery disease risk reduction needs to become part of rheumatoid arthritis management.”

The link between RA and CAD is also significant since many of the medications used in the treatment of RA have now been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus, there must be a risk/benefit analysis in any case where NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are among the potential RA therapies being considered.

The researchers also suggested that, because RA is a painful condition, sufferers may be de-sensitized to chest pain and, thus, delay seeking treatment for CAD symptoms until later in the course of the illness.   

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