The Prevalence of Atherosclerosis in Those with Inflammatory Connective Tissue Disease by Race, Age, and Traditional Risk Factors
Systemic inflammation promotes cardiovascular disease. Inflammatory connective tissue diseases (CTD) like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis associate with cardiovascular risk, but it is unknown whether particular groups of patients have enhanced propensity for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) associated with their CTD. Analysis of aggregate health record data at a large U.S. academic center identified CTD and ASCVD status for 287,467 African American and white adults. ASCVD prevalence in those with CTD was 29.7% for African Americans and 14.7% for white patients with prevalence ratios, compared to those without CTD, of 3.1 and 1.8, respectively. When different types of CTD were analyzed individually (rheumatoid arthritis; lupus; scleroderma; Sjögren Syndrome; dermatomyositis/polymyositis; unspecified/mixed CTD; other inflammatory arthropathy), increased ASCVD rates were found in nearly all subsets, always with higher prevalence ratios in African Americans. The prevalence ratio of ASCVD was particularly high in young African Americans. Furthermore, individuals lacking traditional cardiovascular risk factors had more ASCVD if they had CTD (prevalence ratio 2.9). Multivariate analysis confirmed a positive interaction between CTD and African-American race and a negative interaction between CTD and age. The factors driving the observed disproportionate CTD-associated ASCVD in African Americans, young adults, and those without traditional risk factors warrant further study.