Patients with inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes and venous thromboembolism have an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis, which in turn increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, according to data published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Most existing studies of comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis have been cross sectional, at one point in time,” Vanessa L. Kronzer, MD, of the Mayo Clinic told Healio Rheumatology. “In contrast, our study was able to distinguish when comorbidities develop relative to rheumatoid arthritis. We were also fortunate to be able to adjust for many important confounders such as smoking, which prior studies were not able to do.”

She added, “based on these findings, people who have certain diseases such as IBD, type 1 diabetes or VTE should be aware that they may be at increased risk for RA. This may be particularly relevant for family members who are wondering if they might develop RA too. Another important implication of our study is that RA patients and their providers should have a high index of suspicion and low threshold to screen for heart disease, VTE and sleep apnea.”