CVD the biggest killer for patients with osteoarthritis

2 minute read

People with hip and knee osteoarthritis are most likely to die from CVD with the likelihood increasing with the duration of their condition

People with osteoarthritis are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to any other condition, researchers say.

A 10-year study, recently published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, found cardiovascular disease to be the leading cause of death among patients who had a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden identified almost 16,000 patients aged 67 on average who had a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, hand or other peripheral joints.

Between 2004 and 2014, patients with knee and hip OA were about 20% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the general population.

The CVD mortality gap increased with time, with hazard ratios climbing to 1.19 and 1.13 over 10 years for knee and hip OA, respectively.

This gap was mostly due to excess mortality from chronic ischemic heart diseases and heart failure, the authors said.

Other causes of death (neoplasms, diabetes, infections, dementia, diseases of digestive system) were equally common in the knee and hip OA group and non-OA study participants.

“Our results call for improved implementation of osteoarthritis treatment guidelines, with major focus on interventions to address mobility limitations and maintaining or increase physical activity level,” the authors said.

Professor David Hunter, a rheumatologist and the chair of the Institute of Bone and Joint Research at the University of Sydney, said there was not a lot of awareness of the mortality risks associated with osteoarthritis.

“I hope the rheumatologists find this article interesting because, if they don’t, potentially they are ignoring a very important element of osteoarthritis care,” he said.

It was also important to be aware of the role of anti-inflammatory medication in raising the cardiovascular risk for patients with osteoarthritis, Professor Hunter said.

Previous studies reported that NSAIDs increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by two-thirds in patient with osteoarthritis compared to the general population.

Ms Franca Marine, the national policy and government relations manager at Arthritis Australia, said other common risk factors for patients included obesity and physical inactivity, together with the mobility limitations associated with osteoarthritis.

Adopting a healthy diet and keeping physically active were evidence-based ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with osteoarthritis, she said.

“Luckily, these are also among the most effective ways to manage osteoarthritis,” she said.

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2019, June

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