May 22, 2024

Novel Blood Biomarkers to Assess Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has highlighted the development of blood biomarkers that could potentially predict cardiovascular disease risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 2 million individuals in the US and is linked to an increased likelihood of cardiovascular complications. Traditional clinical assessments, primarily based on factors like age, cholesterol levels, and smoking habits, often underestimate cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The research team, led by experts in rheumatology and cardiovascular disease at Mass General Brigham, identified six specific blood biomarkers associated with cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis patients. These biomarkers proved to enhance the researchers’ ability to predict future arterial inflammation, a key indicator of cardiovascular risk.

Dr. Daniel H. Solomon, the study’s lead author and chief of the Section of Clinical Sciences in the Division of Rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, emphasized the potential of these biomarkers in assessing individual cardiovascular disease risk. However, further research is required to establish a direct correlation between these biomarkers and the occurrence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes.

The study involved the analysis of 24 candidate biomarkers associated with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic inflammation in 109 rheumatoid arthritis patients participating in the TARGET Trial. By monitoring these biomarkers over a six-month period and conducting arterial imaging, the researchers were able to gauge changes in arterial inflammation, a crucial predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.

According to Dr. Ahmed Tawakol, a cardiologist and co-author of the study, arterial inflammation levels can significantly impact the progression of cardiovascular disease. By leveraging these rheumatoid arthritis-specific biomarkers, the researchers surpassed the predictive capabilities of conventional clinical assessments, including the Framingham Risk Score.

Dr. Solomon highlighted the importance of this breakthrough in utilizing blood samples to monitor fluctuations in cardiovascular risk during rheumatoid arthritis treatment. The collaborative efforts between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital played a key role in the success of this study, showcasing the significance of shared expertise and resources.

The research team is now focused on conducting further studies using a larger cohort of rheumatoid arthritis patients from the Brigham and Women’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study (BRASS). This extended research will not only explore the relationship between biomarkers and arterial inflammation but also investigate their potential in predicting future cardiovascular events among rheumatoid arthritis patients, providing valuable insights into early intervention strategies.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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