Objective — In this population-based cohort study, we examined the association between the presence of symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) and risk for cardiovascular (CV) events.
Method — A cohort aged ≥55 years recruited from 1996-98 was followed through provincial health administrative data to 2014. Demographics, joint complaints and functional limitations were collected. Hip, knee and hand OA were defined using a validated definition. Using Cox-regressions, the relationship between OA and a composite CV outcome (myocardial infarction, stroke, angina, heart failure, revascularization) was assessed controlling for age, BMI, sex, pre-existing metabolic factors, comorbidities, income status, primary care exposure and functional limitations.
Results — 18,490 participants were included: median age was 68 years, 60.3% were female; 24.4% met criteria for OA (10.0% hip, 15.3% knee, 16.0% hand), 16.3% self-reported limitation in grip and 25.4% in walking. Over a median 13.4 years, 31.9% experienced a CV event. Controlling for all but walking limitation, a dose-response relationship was observed between number of joints affected by knee/hip OA and CV risk (HR 2 hips/knees vs none: 1.13, 95% CI 1.03-1.23; 3+ hips/knees: 1.22, 95% CI 1.09-1.36). This relationship became non-significant additionally controlling for difficulty walking. Self-reported difficulty walking was associated with a 30% increased hazard for CV events. The effect of hand OA was not significant.
Conclusion — In a large population cohort, a greater burden of hip/knee OA was associated with higher CV risk; the relationship was explained by OA-related difficulty walking. Increased attention to management of OA with a view to improving mobility has potential to reduce CV events.
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