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Keywords:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Cardiovascular disease;
  • Cancer screening;
  • Epidemiology;
  • Health services research

Abstract

Objective

To compare frequencies of cancer screening and cardiovascular treatments aimed at reducing acute myocardial infarction in women with and without rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods

Data from the prospective Nurses' Health Study were analyzed for the 491 women diagnosed with RA prior to 1998 and the 82,884 women without RA. Cardiovascular treatments included aspirin use, treatment with a cholesterol-lowering agent, cardiac catheterization, and coronary artery revascularization; cancer screening consisted of mammography and bimanual pelvic examinations. Adjustments were made for potential confounders using multivariate logistic regression.

Results

After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and a history of gastric or duodenal ulcer, women with RA and no history of cardiac disease were 35% less likely to report taking aspirin regularly (odds ratio [OR] 0.65, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.51–0.84). The use of cholesterol-lowering treatment, angiography, and revascularization was not statistically different in women with and without RA. After adjusting for cancer risk factors, there appeared to be an increased likelihood of mammography in women with RA compared with those without RA (OR 1.41, 95% CI 0.97–2.04), although this result was not statistically significant. Bimanual pelvic examination was reported with similar frequency between the 2 groups.

Conclusion

Other than aspirin use, care to prevent acute myocardial infarction and cancer screening practices were similar among women with RA compared with women without RA.