RA Patients Get Good Care in Surgery

Rheumatoid arthritis patients did not have higher risk of death than diabetes patients during surgery

(RxWiki News) People with rheumatoid arthritis may face a higher risk of heart problems. This increased risk means that patients need to be screened for risks before surgery. Are current screening methods enough?

Rheumatoid arthritis did not increase the risk of death or heart problems during surgery, suggesting that current care during surgery does not need to be changed.

"Ask your doctor about the risks of surgery."

According to Ali Yazdanyar, DO, PhD, of Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Pennsylvania, and colleagues, people with rheumatoid arthritis may have a similar risk of heart problems as those with diabetes. This risk may mean that rheumatoid arthritis patients need pre-surgery screening for heart problems similar to that of diabetes patients.

To find out, Dr. Yazdanyar and colleagues set out to see if the risks of death and heart problems during surgery among arthritis patients were different than these risks for diabetes patients.

They found that rheumatoid arthritis patients undergoing a mid-risk surgery were less likely to die than diabetes patients undergoing a mid-risk surgery. People with rheumatoid arthritis had a 0.30 percent risk of death during surgery, while diabetes patients had a 0.65 percent risk of death.

There was not a large difference in risk of death among those undergoing low-risk versus high-risk surgeries.

In addition, people with rheumatoid arthritis were less likely than diabetes patients to have a heart problem during low-risk surgery. More specifically, arthritis patients had a 3.38 percent risk of heart problems during low-risk surgery, while diabetes patients had a 5.3 percent risk.

During mid-risk surgery, rheumatoid arthritis patients also had a lower risk of heart problems than diabetes patients (0.34 percent versus 1.07 percent).

According to the authors, these findings show that rheumatoid arthritis was not associated with the risk of heart problems or death during surgery. As such, current clinical care during surgery may be enough.

This research was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Co-author Mary Chester Wasko, MD, has received consulting fees from the biotech company Centocor.

The study was published July 27 in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

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Review Date: 
August 22, 2012