New research conducted at Medical Research International suggests small changes in blood pressure associated with the use of common arthritis medications can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study, published in the April 2003 issue of The Journal of Rheumatology, used cardiovascular risk prediction models from the Framingham Heart Study, and data on risk factors from the Third National health and Nutrition Examination Survey to estimate occurrences of ischemic cardiovascular disease (obstruction of blood flow in an artery) and stroke over one year among U.S. adults with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Of the estimated 30 million adults aged 35 years with arthritis, roughly 11.8 million (39%) receive pharmaceutical treatments for high blood pressure (hypertension).
Increases in blood pressure of 1-5mm Hg were associated with 7,100 – 35,700 additional ischemic heart disease and stroke events over one year.
The costs of care for these events reached $114 to 569 million. A 20mm Hg increase in blood pressure experienced by 15% of the at-risk population is associated with about 21,7000 additional events and $346 million in associated costs.
The researchers conclude, “Relatively small changes in SBP associated with use of common arthritis medications can have a significant effect on the cardiovascular risk profile. It is important that clinicians who treat patients with OA/RA accurately weigh the potential risks of these medications against their benefits.”