To better pinpoint the risk for heart disease among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, an international team including Mayo Clinic researchers has created a heart disease risk calculator customized to RA.

The method is known as the Transatlantic Cardiovascular Risk Calculator for Rheumatoid Arthritis, or ATACC-RA. The research team is comprised of institutions from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Europe; Mayo is gathering and analyzing the group’s data, according to a news release from the Mayo Clinic.

The release reports that the initial findings indicate that the new calculator is more effective for RA patients than standard heart disease risk calculators, such as the Framingham and SCORE risk assessment tools. Researchers say of the 314 RA patients studied who eventually developed heart problems, Framingham classified 54% as high risk. ATACC-RA pinpointed 64% as high risk.

Sherine Gabriel, MD, rheumatologist and epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, explains that, “What’s unique about this calculator is that it incorporates rheumatoid arthritis disease characteristics into the assessment of cardiovascular risk.”

Gabriel adds that major predictors of heart disease in RA is linked to RA itself, according to Mayo Clinic research and other studies, including the disease, inflammation, and perhaps treatments. The new risk tool includes these factors.

The ATACC-RA calculator is built to accurately predict RA patients’ chances of developing heart disease within 10 years. Gabriel also states that the group plans further work in order to test and refine the calculator so it can be customized for patients.

[Source: Mayo Clinic]