Arthritis & Artery Disease

Hand osteoarthritis in older women appears to be associated with carotid and coronary atherosclerosis, Icelandic and US researchers report in the November issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

“These results” lead investigator Dr. Helgi Jonsson told Reuters Health, “indicate a linear association between the severity of hand osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis, suggesting that the pathological processes have certain components in common.”

Dr. Jonsson of Landspitalinn University Hospital, Reykjavik and colleagues examined data from a population-based study of Icelanders involving 2264 men and 3078 women with a mean age of 76 years.

After adjustment for age and other confounders, in women, both carotid plaque severity and coronary artery calcification were significantly associated with hand osteoarthritis. For coronary artery calcification, the odds ratio was 1.42 and for moderate or severe coronary plaques, it was 1.25.

Both of these factors showed significant linear trends in relation to hand osteoarthritis in women over the whole cohort. However, no significant relationships were seen in men.

“Our results,” say the investigators, “lend support to theories indicating that vascular pathology is an integral part of the osteoarthritis process.”

Dr. Jonsson concluded “I consider this a major step forward in our understanding of the systemic nature of osteoarthritis and think that further studies of hand osteoarthritis may provide the key necessary for the understanding and treatment of osteoarthritis.”

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