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07-01-2021 | Rheumatology | News | Article

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Number of comorbidities linked to serious infection risk in biologic-treated RA patients

Claire Barnard

medwireNews: Among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), having more comorbidities at the time of biologic DMARD initiation is associated with an increased risk for serious infection, researchers report.

Olivier Vittecoq (CHU de Rouen, France) and team analyzed medical record data from 553 RA patients who initiated biologic treatment, most commonly tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (83.7%), at a single center between 2001 and 2011. In all, 3.8% of patients experienced a serious infection during 2 years of follow-up.

After adjustment for factors including age, corticosteroid use, and disease activity, people with two or more comorbidities had a significant 5.4-fold higher risk for serious infection than those with none or one. Having a Charlson comorbidity score of 2 points was also associated with a greater serious infection risk relative to a score of 1 point, but this association lost statistical significance after adjustment for confounding factors.

“[T]his work suggests that the number of comorbidities might have an impact on the incidence of [serious infection] within 2 years of the initiation of a [biologic] DMARD,” write the researchers in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

They note, however, that “longitudinal multicenter data are required” to confirm their findings.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

J Clin Rheumatol 2020; doi:10.1097/RHU.0000000000001618

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