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People with ankylosing spondylitis could be at a higher risk of experiencing poor cardiovascular health than is currently anticipated, according to a US study.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints in the spine.
The research involved the assessment of a population-based cohort of residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota aged 18 years and over between 1980 and 2009, with a total of 86 patients being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis over the study period.
Aimed at identifying trends in the incidence and clinical presentation of ankylosing spondylitis, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular risk factors, the study compared the observed incidence of heart conditions with the rate predicted by the Framingham Risk Score (FRS), an accepted means of predicting a person's ten-year cardiovascular risk.
According to results published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research, inflammatory back pain was the most commonly-presenting manifestation of the disease, seen in 90 per cent of patients.
Meanwhile, the ten-year cumulative incidence of cardiovascular disease was three times higher than the predicted events based on the FRS, overall survival rates shown to be similar to the general population.
The researchers concluded: "Ankylosing spondylitis occurs in approximately three persons per 100,000 per year. Clinical features, extraarticular manifestation and interval from symptom onset to diagnosis have remained constant in this population over the study period.
"The CVD risk in these patients is higher than expected and underestimated by the Framingham Risk Score."
A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said: "It's well known that people with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk of developing heart disease due to inflammation, which is a characteristic feature of the disease, and this may also explain this higher risk in ankylosing spondylitis, another inflammatory form of arthritis.
"Patients and clinicians clearly need to be aware of this increased risk, and take steps to reduce it."
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