Background: Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of classical cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, obesity, glucose intolerance, and dyslipidemia is highly prevalent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the study was to assess the frequency of metabolic syndrome (MS) in RA patients, and to evaluate the relationships between metabolic syndrome and RA.
Methods: The study was conducted on 120 RA patients according to the 1987 revised American College of Rheumatology classification criteria, and 100 age and sex matched apparently healthy controls. The frequency of metabolic syndrome was assessed using six Metabolic Syndrome definitions (Joint Consensus 2009, National Cholesterol Education Programme 2004 and 2001, International Diabetes Federation, World Health Organisation and European Group for Study of Insulin Resistance). Logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of metabolic Syndrome.
Results: The frequency of metabolic syndrome varied from 18 to 48.6% in RA according to the definition used and was significantly higher than controls (for all definitions p<0.05). In multivariate analysis, higher ESR was independently associated with the presence of Met S (OR =1.36; CI: 1.18-2.12; p = 0.03). Glucocorticoid use, but not other disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), values remained significant independent predictors of the presence of metabolic syndrome in RA patients (OR = 1.45; CI: 1.12-2.14; p = 0.04).
Conclusions: In summary, the frequency of metabolic syndrome in RA varies according to the definition used and was significantly higher compared to controls (for all definitions p<0.05). Higher systemic inflammatory marker, and glucocorticoids use were independent predictors associated with the presence of metabolic syndrome in patients with RA. These findings suggest that physicians should screen for metabolic syndrome in patients with RA to control its components and therefore reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in these patients.