Low-dose steroid ups risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers caution – Clinical Daily News – McKnights Long Term Care News

Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by

Image of Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Patients taking small doses of glucocorticoids for inflammatory conditions have an outsized risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study has found.

For patients using less than 5 mg of prenisolone per day, the odds of experiencing an adverse cardiovascular event or developing disease nearly doubled when compared with patients not using glucocorticoids, said Mar Pujades-Rodriguez, Ph.D., of Leeds University, in the U.K. 

Investigators analyzed medical records for patients with no prior cardiovascular symptoms from 389 primary care practices in Britain. They focused on six immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and/or vasculitis, and giant cell arteritis and/or polymyalgia rheumatica.

Heightened risk was found across all cardiovascular diseases measured, and increased alongside steroid dose amount and duration of treatment, Pujades-Rodriguez said.

Notably, one quarter of participants had a known modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in the following categories: current smoking, obesity or hypertension. 

Pujades-Rodriguez and her colleagues urge clinicians to implement targeted cardiovascular risk interventions when prescribing even low-dose steroids to these patients.

The study was published in PLOS One.

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