Objective: To investigate the prospective effect of hemostatic factors and inflammatory variables on the progression of cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Von Willebrand factor (vWF) and the fibrinolytic factors tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), measured as tPA capacity, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1), platelets, fibrinogen, and inflammatory markers were measured in 74 patients with active seropositive RA. Lipid levels, lipoprotein(a), and cardiolipin antibodies were also analyzed. Cardiovascular disease, measured by past cardiovascular events including thrombotic events, was registered in an 8 year followup.
Results: Patients with a cardiovascular event during the followup period (n = 26) had significantly higher levels of vWF, PAI-1, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and haptoglobin at entry to the study. In a multiple logistic regression model controlling for several conventional cardiovascular risk factors and pharmacological treatment at sampling, PAI-1 and tPA were significantly associated with cardiovascular disease progression.
Conclusion: The altered levels of vWF, PAI-1, and, in logistic regression, tPA in RA patients with cardiovascular disease progression indicates a status of hypofibrinolysis in these patients. Higher levels of ESR and haptoglobin may reflect the importance of the inflammatory process for the development of cardiovascular disease in RA.