Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease, affecting women more than men, with a more aggressive course in women.
A prospective study that recruited 58 patients (46 women aged 56 ± 12 years) with active long-standing RA disease (>12 months). Our goals were to measure their endothelial function, part of the cardiovascular risk assessment.
The Brachial Artery method measured endothelial function (the flow mediated percent change [FMD percentage] of the brachial artery diameter). A senior Rheumatologist clinically evaluated all subjects. Mann Whitney rank sum test estimated gender differences among the RA patients.
Median FMD% change for men was −6.07%, while median FMD% change for women was 0.44% (Z = 2.38, P = 0.01). Baseline Brachial artery diameter was larger in men (Z = 2.52, P = 0.01); however, tender joints count and BMI were greater in women (Z=−2.24, P = 0.01; Z=−3.99, P = 0.001), respectively.
Women with RA have significantly better endothelial function than men with RA. It means that even though RA is 3-fold more prevalent in women, women are more protected from atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and cardiac events.