Researchers also found that a lower educational level was linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, they report in Joint Bone Spine, online May 26.
Dr. Wanruchada Katchamart and colleagues at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok analyzed data prospectively collected since 2011 in the hospital’s RA registry. Their analysis covers 267 patients with complete data on disease activity, functional status, and metabolic syndrome parameters as of February 2015. Most patients (88%) were female and the mean age was 59.
The researchers found that 43 RA patients (16%) also had metabolic syndrome. Using backward stepwise logistic regression analysis, they identified three factors independently associated with metabolic syndrome: higher BMI (odds ratio, 1.2; p<0.001), education level 12 years or less (OR, 5.92; p=0.01), and disease remission (OR, 0.11; p=0.04).
Patients with metabolic syndrome had a higher proportion of rituximab use than those without the syndrome (OR, 17.44; p=0.002).
The education-level finding has not been shown in previous research, the authors noted. “Patient education involving lifestyle modification should be routinely implemented in the daily practice,” they write.
The most prevalent component of metabolic syndrome was hypertension, with 90.7% of patients with metabolic syndrome having elevated blood pressure, compared with 57.1% of those without the syndrome.
One strength of the study is having a higher number of patients than previous research, the researchers say, while a limitation is that patients were seen at a tertiary care center and may have had more severe disease than RA patients in general.
The team concludes, “These findings suggest that low cumulative disease activity may decrease risk for (metabolic syndrome). Annual surveillance of (metabolic syndrome) should be considered in all patients with RA. In addition, suppression of disease activity to at least low disease activity or remission is beneficial for not only preventing joint deformities and functional disability, but also reducing the risk of (metabolic syndrome) leading to lower (cardiovascular) morbidity and mortality.”
Dr. Katchamart did not respond to a request for comment.