Background Medical management of adults with osteoarthritis (OA) who require non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) must be decided after assessing prevalent gastrointestinal (GI) and cardiovascular (CV) risks in the individual patient.
Objective To evaluate the GI and CV risk profile of patients with OA who require NSAIDs.
Methods A transversal, multicentre and observational study was conducted in consecutive patients with OA who were considered candidates for NSAID treatment and were visited by 374 unselected rheumatologists throughout the National Health System. Patients were classified into three risk groups (low, moderate and high) for their GI and CV characteristics. These were defined by considering the presence of a number of well-established GI risk factors or by application of the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation model for assessing the overall risk for CV disease, respectively.
Results Of 3293 consecutive patients, most (86.6%) were at increased GI risk and a considerable number, 22.3%, were at high GI risk. The CV risk was high in 44.2% of patients, moderate in 28.5% and low in 27.3%. Overall, 15.5% of patients presented a very high-risk profile, having high GI and CV risks. The type of NSAID prescription was similar regardless of the associated GI and CV risk profile.
Conclusion Most patients with OA requiring NSAIDs for pain control showed a high prevalence of GI and CV risk factors. Over half of the patients were at either high GI or CV risk, or both, such that the prescription of OA treatments should be very carefully considered.
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