A recent study appearing in JAMA indicates that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may be a risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Researchers report that this may be particularly true in conjunction with hospitalization and that the elevated risk remained stable for 10 years following diagnosis.

According to an American Medical Association (AMA) news release, the study encompassed more than 45,000 individuals in Sweden with RA. Marie E. Holmqvist, MD, PhD, Karolinska Instituet, Stockholm, Sweden, reportedly lead the study which sought to assess the overall occurrence and relative risks of VTE in RA patients in relation to RA onset and disease duration, as well as in conjunction with hospitalization.

Researchers say the study included a prevalent RA group, an incident RA group, and matched general population comparison groups. The study’s follow-up extended from the year 1997 through 2010.  The results suggest that among the patients with prevalent RA and the matched individuals in the general population comparison cohort, 2.2% of patients and 1.1% of matched individuals sustained a VTE event after the index date. Researchers reiterate the findings, noting that following analysis of the data the results indicates that patients with prevalent RA were at greater risk of VTE than the general population.

The results also suggest that there was no statistically significant link between a history of VTE and RA by the time of RA symptom onset. According to the release, from RA diagnosis, an elevated rate in the RA cohort when compared to the comparison cohort was pinpointed within the first year and did not increase during the first decade. 

Researchers also report that while rates for VTE following hospitalization were higher, the 1-year rate of VTE was not higher in the RA cohort than in the comparison cohort following discharge. Researchers add that the rates of VTE increased with age, yet remained largely similar across sex and RA factor status.

“The results of this study that patients with RA are at increased risk of VTE and that the risk of VTE increases shortly after RA diagnosis and remains slightly elevated during the first decade,” researchers affirm.

Source: American Medical Association