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The metabolic syndrome is amplified in hypothyroid rheumatoid arthritis patients: a cross-sectional study


Objectives: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is even more pronounced in hypothyroid RA patients. An unfavourable cardiovascular risk profile conferred by a higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and a higher Framingham risk score might explain this amplified cardiovascular morbidity. This study compared first, MetS (features) and second, the Framingham 10-year CVD risk in RA patients with hypothyroidism compared with euthyroid RA patients.

Methods: RA patients participating in the CARRÉ investigation were divided into two groups: hypothyroid and euthyroid RA patients. MetS according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Third Adult Treatment Panel criteria and the Framingham risk score was compared between hypothyroid and non-hypothyroid CVD event-free RA patients.

Results: In total, 257 RA patients were included: 236 with RA (91.8%) and 21 with hypothyroid RA (8.2%), respectively. The prevalence of the MetS was significantly higher in hypothyroid RA patients (43%) compared with RA patients (20%). Moreover, female hypothyroid RA patients had a higher Framingham risk score compared with euthyroid RA patients. With RA patients as the reference category, the age and gender-adjusted prevalence odds ratio for the MetS was 3.5 (95% CI 1.3 to 9.1) in hypothyroid RA.

Conclusions: Hypothyroid RA patients, particularly female patients, have a more unfavourable cardiovascular risk profile, reflected by an increased prevalence of the MetS and higher Framingham score, than euthyroid RA patients, suggesting a greater need for cardiovascular risk management in these patients to prevent future CVD events.

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