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.