INCREASED RISK OF DEMENTIA IN PATIENTS WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: A NATIONWIDE POPULATION-BASED COHORT STUDY
Authors: Y. Eun, et al.
We know that RA patients are at increased risk for several chronic comorbid conditions, such as cardiovascular events or interstitial lung disease. This analysis took advantage of a nationwide population-based cohort from South-Korea to examine if RA patients were at higher risk of developing dementia over time. All patients newly diagnosed with RA between 2010 and 2017 (n = ~140’000) were compared to an age- and sex-matched control population who went to see their doctor for a health check-up. Over the next 5 years, RA patients were 20% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia (aHR: 1.21 (95% CI 1.25-1.67)) and 10% more likely to develop ‘vascular dementia’ (aHR: 1.10 (95% CI 0.99-1.21), even after taking into account confounding factors.
This study suggests that the RA population is at slightly increased risk of dementia. Since the effect-size is fairly small (an increase of ~20%), it is still possible that this effect be due to unmeasured confounding factors, such as lower socio-economic status or decreased physical activity, rather than the disease itself. However, it should remind us rheumatologists to treat not only the disease activity of our patients, but also cardiovascular risk factors and general physical health.