A study led by the Mayo Clinic involving 3,276 patients has
found that people with inflammatory bowel disease, type 1
diabetes or blood clots may be at increased risk of developing
The study also found that people who have rheumatoid arthritis
are at increased risk of developing heart disease, blood clots and
Comorbidities, or other chronic conditions, have been linked to
poorer outcomes for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, including
worsened physical disability, functional decline, poorer quality of
life and increased mortality.
While some research exists on comorbidities and their effects,
this study leverages the Mayo Clinic Biobank, which contains data
on 74 comorbidities and the age of onset for these
Dr Vanessa Kronzer, a clinician investigator fellow in
rheumatology at Mayo Clinic said, "We found that comorbidities
accumulate in an accelerated fashion after diagnosis of rheumatoid
"We also found that autoimmune conditions
like type 1 diabetes and epilepsy may predispose people to
development of rheumatoid arthritis, while heart disease and other
conditions may develop as a result of rheumatoid arthritis."
The findings have important implications for understanding how
rheumatoid arthritis develops. It also could lead to earlier
detection and screening initiatives for other diseases and
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can
affect not only the joints, but also can damage a wide variety of
body systems, including the lungs, heart and blood vessels.
Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid
arthritis affects the lining of joints, causing a painful swelling
that can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
The study identified 821 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who
were diagnosed at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and Florida between
January 2009 and February 2018, and enlisted 2,455 control
participants, for a total sample of 3,276 participants.
Researchers found that 11 comorbidities were associated with
rheumatoid arthritis, including epilepsy and pulmonary
Among other new information in the study, blood clots occurred
more commonly in rheumatoid arthritis cases before diagnosis,
suggesting that systemic inflammation may start before the
rheumatoid arthritis symptoms become clinically apparent.
The association with type 1 diabetes prior to diagnosis of
rheumatoid arthritis also was strong, highlighting the importance
of heightened suspicion of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with
autoimmune diseases, and vice versa.
"Our findings suggest that people with certain conditions, such
as type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease, should be
carefully monitored for rheumatoid arthritis," said Dr.
"In addition, people who have rheumatoid arthritis, and their
health care providers, should have heightened suspicion and a low
threshold to screen for cardiovascular disease, blood clots and
The Mayo Clinic Biobank is a collection of samples, including
blood and blood derivatives, and health information donated by Mayo
Clinic patients and other volunteers.
Among its distinctive values for this research is the depth of
self-reported health information gathered, including an extensive
list of comorbidities.