Objectives: An association between osteoarthritis (OA) and atherosclerosis (AT) has been proposed, but evidence is controverted, with recent meta-analysis showing disparate results. To better refine this possible association, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis subdividing OA by joint, i.e., hip and knee, hands, and OA in general, and stratified the results by subclinical AT, manifest cardiovascular (CV) disease, and CV death. Separation by sex, whenever this information was available, was also accounted.
Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, LILACS, and SciELO from inception until September 2021, using the MeSH search terms "osteoarthritis", "aorta", "carotid", "intima-media thickness", "coronary artery disease", "atherosclerosis", "cardiovascular disease", and "death". To appraise the quality of the studies, we applied the NewCastle-Ottawa scale. To assess for heterogeneity, I2 was used. A random-fixed effect model was adopted, and outliers were excluded when detected. Publication bias was ascertained by funnel plot and Egger regression test.
Results: A total of 49 studies, comprising 552,857 individuals with OA and 688,820 controls, were included on the narrative synthesis, and 33 on the meta-analysis. All but five studies were deemed as of fair or good quality. Hip and knee OA increased the risk for both subclinical AT (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.01-1.31), and CV disease (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.05-1.22), but not for CV death (OR 1.08, 95% CI 0.99-1.19). Hands OA was associated with subclinical AT (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.02-1.36), but not with CV disease (OR 1.49, 95% CI 0.90-2.46) or CV death (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.73-1.44).
Conclusions: Having OA was associated with subclinical AT for all joints evaluated, but with CV disease only for weight-bearing joints. Even though there was a trend in favor of a positive association between OA and CV death, it did not reach statistical significance.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Hand; Hip; Knee; Osteoarthritis.
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