Background There is compelling evidence that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have different expressions and outcomes between populations. Knowing the expression of RA in a determined population should make easier to plan allocation estrategies for health resources and to help predetermine the sample size of future studies.
Objectives To assess the expression of RA in an unselected cohort of patients from various parts of the country. To estimate the prevalence of specific RA features and of comorbid conditions in RA patients from a nation-wide sample.
Methods 780 patients fulfilling the ACR criteria for the classification of RA, and in any stage of the disease, were randomly selected from the registries of 34 participating centres. A baseline visit by trained rheumatologists permitted the investigation of the present expression of the disease and of comorbidities. All comorbid conditions and extraarticular manifestations of RA had protocolised definitions.
Results RA in our country is more frequent in women (72.0% [68.9–75.2]), being the mean age at the onset of the disease 41 years ± 13 (SD). A moderate proportion of patients, 15.4% [12.8–17.9], fulfilled remission criteria at present. In order of frequency, the estimated prevalence of extra-articular manifestations was: Sjögren’s syndrome 16.2% [13.6–18.7], nodules 16.0% [13.4–18.6], atlanto-axial subluxation 11.5% [9.2–13.8], interstitial lung disease 3.2% [2.0–4.5], eye involvement 2.3% [1.3–3.4], cardiac and/or pleural effussions 1.6% [0.7–2.4]. Vasculitis, amyloid, and Felty’s syndrome prevalences are below 1%.
The most common comorbidities were, in order of frequency: hypertension 29.7% [26.5–33.0], cytopenia 27.2% [24.1–30.4], hypercholesterolemia 24.1% [21.0–27.1], osteoporosis 21.5% [18.5–24.4], and depression 10.9% [8.7–13.1]
Conclusion The preliminary results of this cohort, give us a reliable “picture” of RA in our country. The prevalence of some of the comorbid conditions is higher than expected, despite restrictive definitions. The estimates obtained will be further studied.
This study was sponsored by Aventis, España.
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