Arthritis suffers may face an increased risk of developing blood clots, making them potentially more susceptible to stroke and heart attack, new research shows.
The study, published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, involved more than 45,000 Swedes with rheumatoid arthritis and found they faced significantly greater risks of developing VTE — short for venous thromboembolism, a blood clot that forms within a vein.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
"Recent reports suggest that rheumatoid arthritis may be a risk factor for [VTE], particularly in conjunction with hospitalization,” researchers noted. “Using hospitalization data to identify [arthritis] and VTE may identify patients when they are at elevated risk for other reasons.”
For the study, Dr. Marie E. Holmqvist of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, tracked arthritis patients from 1997 through 2010, and compared the results to individuals without the painful autoimmune disease.
The results showed substantially higher rates of hospitalization for VTE among arthritis sufferers, but could not explain precisely why.
"The results of this study suggest that patients with RA are at increased risk of VTE [both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism] and that the risk of VTE increases shortly after RA diagnosis and remains similarly elevated during the first decade," the researchers said.