A study, reported in Arthritis &Rheumatism (February 2005), corroboratedthe strong association betweenrheumatoid arthritis (RA) and congestiveheart failure. The study included165 Minnesota residents with RA. TheMayo Clinic researchers found that theparticipants were 2 times as likely todevelop heart failure over a 15-yearperiod, compared with 116 residents ofsimilar age and gender without the disease.Study author Paulo Nicola, MD,acknowledged earlier studies demonstratingthe same connection. "This onefollowed patients from the beginning ofthe disease, describing how theincrease in heart-failure risk was presentin the early stages and throughout."
He pointed out that the study indicatedthe need for aggressive treatment ofrisk factors for heart disease and stroke(eg, hypertension and diabetes) in individualswith RA. "The clinician shouldbe aware of the higher risk of heart failureand look for the early symptoms ofheart failure even in people without cardiovascularrisk factors,"said Dr. Nicola."Treatment should be focused not onlyon the rheumatoid condition, but also oncontrol of those risk factors."