Aggressively manage vascular risk factors in polymyalgia, GPs told

GPs have been urged to 'aggressively' manage risk factors for vascular disease in people with polymyalgia rheumatica, after the disease was found to greatly increase the risk of MI and stroke.

Polymyalgia rheumatica raises vascular risks, particularly in middle age (Photo: JH Lancy)
Polymyalgia rheumatica raises vascular risks, particularly in middle age (Photo: JH Lancy)

A study by Keele University in Staffordshire showed patients with the inflammatory disorder were up to five times more likely to develop vascular disease in middle age, including serious cardiovascular events.

Researchers said proactive management could lessen the chance of future complications.

Polymyalgia rheumatica affects one in 50 people in their lifetime, but evidence is mixed for the disease’s impact on vascular health.

Researchers studied data on 3,249 patients with the condition matched to 12,735 patients without, none of whom had a history of vascular disease.

Patients with polymyalgia rheumatica had a higher risk of all forms of vascular disease, including angina, MI, atherosclerosis and stroke.

Vascular risks peaked 6-12 months after diagnosis. The largest increase in risk compared with patients without the condition was seen in people aged 50-59.

Study authors said: 'This early excess risk provides insight into potential mechanisms and supports the link between inflammation and vascular disease, given that the inflammatory burden in polymyalgia rheumatica… is highest in early disease.'

They concluded: ‘Aggressive management of vascular risk factors should be considered in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica to try to attenuate this excess risk.’

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