Objective: Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is a common disorder, yet its incidence and natural history are unknown. Our objective was to determine the incidence and natural history of RP not associated with a connective tissue disease in a large, community-based population.
Methods: Using serial examinations of the Framingham Heart Study offspring cohort, we collected data regarding RP symptoms for 717 women and 641 men over a 7-year period. We used validated criteria for RP classification and categorized participants as having incident, persistent, or remitted RP. We performed sex-specific analyses of RP status by age, body mass index, vibratory tool use, season of examination, state of residence, use of antihypertensive medications, and smoking status.
Results: The mean +/- SD age of participants was 53.5 +/- 10 years. The incidence of RP was 2.2% in women (n = 14) and 1.5% in men (n = 9). Of the 78 women and 50 men who had RP at baseline, 36% of women (n = 28) and 36% of men (n = 18) had persistent RP. RP remitted in 64% of women (n = 50) and 64% of men (n = 32), with 41 women and 25 men meeting no or only 1 RP criterion at followup. RP episodes were infrequent and rarely interfered with daily activities.
Conclusion: This is the first prospective study to determine the incidence and natural history of RP in a community-based cohort. Our data demonstrate that RP not associated with a connective tissue disease is frequently a transient phenomenon and rarely interferes with daily activities.