MONDAY, May 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased prevalence of multimorbidity, according to a study recently published in RMD Open.

Cynthia S. Crowson, Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues examined the comorbidity burden in patients with RA in a population-based study. The prevalence of 44 previously defined morbidities and 78 nonoverlapping chronic disease categories was compared in residents of eight Minnesota counties with prevalent RA and in age-, sex-, and county-matched non-RA comparators (1,643 patients with RA and 1,643 non-RA individuals).

The researchers found that multimorbidity, defined as two or more morbidities, was present in 86 and 71 percent of RA and non-RA individuals, respectively, with five or more morbidities present in 55 and 38 percent of those with RA and non-RA participants, respectively. Compared with non-RA participants, patients with RA had significantly higher prevalence of 24 of the 44 morbidities, especially interstitial lung disease, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. Seven of the additional 78 categories were significantly higher in RA patients than non-RA participants, including organic sleep disorders, vitamin D deficiency, and foot ulcers.

“The majority of patients with RA are dealing with multiple chronic conditions,” the authors write. “These conditions impart a substantial burden of health care concerns and make health care decision-making more challenging than in patients without RA.”

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