Objective: To compare the characteristics of traditional cardiovascular risk factors for untreated patients with early arthritis (EA) and healthy subjects, and to look for a link between cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation in EA patients.
Methods: This multicenter case-control study enrolled 607 patients with EA (ESPOIR cohort) and 1,821 age- and sex-matched controls (World Health Organization MONICA survey). Lipid levels, blood pressure, glucose levels, and exposure to smoking were characterized in patients and controls. Systemic inflammation was quantified in EA patients. Traditional cardiovascular risk factor characteristics were compared between patients with EA and controls. The link between cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation was assessed in EA patients.
Results: Mean ± SEM total cholesterol (2.14 ± 0.022 versus 2.34 ± 0.017 gm/liter; P < 0.001), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (0.60 ± 0.011 versus 0.63 ± 0.007 gm/liter; P = 0.020), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (1.28 ± 0.025 versus 1.51 ± 0.016 gm/liter; P < 0.001) were lower in EA patients than in controls. Triglycerides, triglycerides/HDL ratio, and pulse pressure were higher in patients with EA. Diastolic blood pressure and glucose levels were lower in EA patients. Former or current smokers were more frequent in patients with EA. Total and HDL cholesterol levels were negatively associated with C-reactive protein or serum interleukin-6 levels.
Conclusion: Total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, glucose, and triglycerides/HDL ratio differ between patients with EA and controls. Some of these risk factors appear to be linked to systemic inflammation. Such initial differences could modulate the risk of cardiovascular events later in the course of arthritis.
Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Rheumatology.