A Mayo Clinic-led research team has concluded that the presence of comorbidities, such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, venous thromboembolism, cardiovascular disease and obstructive sleep apnea may either predispose patients to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) development or may manifest following RA diagnosis. These findings were presented in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The team that includes investigators from Mayo Clinic and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a case-control study to assess comorbidities in RA and reported in Rheumatology Advisor. Limitations to the study included the use of a convenience sample and its associated potential for selection bias as well as limited generalizability. Moreover, RA diagnosis timing and comorbidity data was generated by patient-self-report and could possibly lead to misclassification bias. The authors report that the study has a potential for unmeasured residual confounding as a consequence to the observational type of study.
The team found an association between RA and pre-existing comorbidities and a key takeaway from this study includes the goal of improving earlier detection of RA. Moreover, assuming these findings are in fact accurate (e.g. not overly influenced by bias), the findings point to the importance of screening for comorbidities among RA patients, including cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, etc.