They warn of the need to prevent cardiovascular pathologies in patients with autoimmune diseases
Based on an extensive epidemiological study, researchers at the University of KU Leuven (Belgium) have shown that patients with an autoimmune disorder are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In this way, the association between autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, sclerosis… is demonstrated for the first time.
Based on an extensive epidemiological study, researchers at the University of KU Leuven (Belgium) have shown that patients with some autoimmune disorder run older risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In this way, the association between autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, systemic sclerosis, lupus erythematosus and type I diabetes, with cardiovascular risks, is demonstrated for the first time.
Previous research has already suggested associations between some of these disorders and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, however, these studies have generally been limited to selected autoimmune or cardiovascular diseases to obtain conclusive evidence for the need for cardiovascular disease prevention among patients with autoimmune diseases.
Now, an international research team has presented, at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology held in Barcelona, the result of a epidemiological research about possible links between some twenty common autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease.
The results of the study show that patients with autoimmune disease have a substantially higher risk (between 1.4 and 3.6 times depending on the autoimmune condition) of developing cardiovascular disease than people without an autoimmune disorder. This excess risk is comparable to that of type 2 diabetes, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The investigation shows for the first time that cardiovascular risks can be associated with autoimmune diseases as a group of disorders, rather than individually selected disorders.
The study authors note that excess risk encompasses full spectrum of cardiovascular disease, beyond classic coronary heart disease, including infection-related cardiac disorders, cardiac inflammation, as well as thromboembolic and degenerative cardiac disorders, suggesting that the implications of autoimmunity on cardiovascular health are likely to be much broader. than originally thought. Furthermore, the excess risk was not explained by traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, blood pressure, BMI, smoking, cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
The study was based on electronic health records from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). The risk of developing cardiovascular disease for patients with one or more autoimmune disorders was on average 1.56 times higher than in those without autoimmune pathology. They also found that the excess risk increased with the number of different autoimmune disorders in individual patients. Among the disorders generating the greatest excess risk are systemic sclerosis, Addison’s disease, lupus and type I diabetes.
Need for more prevention
One of the study lead authors, Natalie Conrad, has recognized that the guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, which still do not mention autoimmunity as a cardiovascular risk factor. “So far they only mention a few specific disorders, such as lupus, nor do they list specific prevention measures for patients with autoimmune disease“.
Said expert hopes that this study will generate awareness among patients with autoimmune diseases and physicians involved in the care of these patients, which will include many different specialties, such as cardiologists, rheumatologists, or general practitioners. “We need to develop specific prevention measures for these patients, as well as more research to help understand why patients with an autoimmune disorder develop more cardiovascular disease than others, and how we can prevent this from happeningConrad concluded.