Association between arthritis and cardiovascular risk factors in community-based adults: an opportunity to target cardiovascular risk

Julia Sewell, Sultana Monira Hussain, Yuanyuan Wang, Anita E. Wluka, Yuan Z. Lim, Melinda J. Carrington, Katherine Samaras, Flavia M. Cicuttini

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Undertreated risk factors are major contributors to the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Those with arthritis have an increased prevalence of CVD risk factors. CVD risk factors are often asymptomatic, which may be a barrier their treatment. Arthritis causes pain and immobility, and is a common reason for individuals to seek healthcare. Our aims were to (1) examine the relationship between arthritis and CVD risk factors in Australian adults, and (2) calculate the proportion of CVD risk factors that could be reduced if individuals with arthritis were targeted. Methods: This cross-sectional study uses data from the 2017–18 Australian National Health Survey which included 13,776 participants, categorised into young (18–39 years), middle aged (40–64 years) and older (≥ 65 years) adults. Hypertension, height and weight were measured. Arthritis, dyslipidemia and diabetes were self-reported. The associations between arthritis and CVD risk factors were examined using logistic regression, and the population attributable fraction (PAF) of arthritis for each CVD risk factor was calculated. Results: Arthritis was reported by 4.0% of young adults, 28.8% of middle-aged adults and 54.5% of older adults. Those with arthritis were at increased odds of obesity (2.07 fold in young, 1.75 fold in middle-aged and 1.89 fold in older adults), increased odds of diabetes (5.70 fold in young, 1.64 fold in middle-aged and 1.37 fold in older adults), increased odds of hypertension (2.72 fold in young, 1.78 fold in middle-aged and 1.48 fold in older adults) and an increased odds of dyslipidaemia (4.64 fold in young, 2.14 fold in middle-aged and 1.22 fold in older adults) compared to those without arthritis. This elevated chance remained significant even after adjusting for obesity, with the exception of diabetes in the older population. This elevated chance remained significant even after adjusting for obesity, with the exception of diabetes in the older population. The PAF of the presence of arthritis for having at least one CVD risk factor was 30.7% in middle-aged adults and 70.4% in older adults. Conclusion: Australian adults of all ages with arthritis are at increased odds of having CVD risk factors. For young and middle-aged adults, this increased odds remains significant even when adjusted for obesity. Presentation to healthcare practitioners with arthritis is an opportunity to screen for asymptomatic CVD risk factors with the potential of improving outcomes for both diseases. By adopting an approach of managing arthritis and CVD risk factors in parallel, rather than in silos, we could reduce the burden of CVD risk factors by 20–30%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number232
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Cardiovascular Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiovascular risk factors
  • Crystal arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidaemia
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis

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