RA Tied to Deep Vein Blood Clots

Deep vein thrombosis risk greater in patients with prior rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Inflammation is a key part of the body's healing process. However, it is also at the root of many health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis and heart and vein disorders.

Researchers recently found that rheumatoid arthritis may boost the risk of deep vein blood clots - a condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

"Get treated for your arthritis to prevent complications."

Most deep vein blood clots form in the lower leg or thigh. However, they can also happen in other parts of the body. Some clots can become loose, flow to an artery in the lungs and block blood flow.

This condition is known as pulmonary embolism - which can lead to serious organ damage and death.

There is limited research about the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, said Jiunn-Horng Kang, MD, PhD, of Taipei Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues in background information to their study.

Dr. Kang and colleagues set out to study the possible link between these two conditions.

They found that patients with deep vein thrombosis were almost two times more likely to have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis compared to those without deep vein thrombosis.

"We found rheumatoid arthritis to be significantly associated with deep vein thrombosis," the authors said.

They recommend that patients with rheumatoid arthritis properly manage their condition to lower the risk of deep vein blood clots.

"Further study is need to confirm our findings," the authors concluded.

For their research, Dr. Kang and colleagues identified 5,193 patients with deep vein thrombosis and compared them to 20,772 people without deep vein blood clots. The researchers then looked back in time to see which participants had been diagnosed previously with rheumatoid arthritis.

Of all the participants in the study, 235 (0.9 percent) had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

A total of 77 (1.5 percent) patients with deep vein thrombosis had a been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In comparison, 158 (0.8 percent) of patients without deep vein thrombosis had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Patients with deep vein thrombosis had 1.92 times the odds of having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis compared to those without deep vein thrombosis.

Even when the researchers took into account of risk factors of disease - such as heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease - there was still a significant link between deep vein thrombosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

After accounting for these risk factors, patients with deep vein thrombosis had 1.88 times the odds of having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, compared to those without deep vein thrombosis.

The study was published October 22 in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 23, 2012
Last Updated:
October 25, 2012