J Rheumatol 2014 Mar 15;41(3):437-43. Epub 2014 Jan 15.
From the Department of Health Sciences Research and the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.
Objective: To assess the occurrence, risk factors, morbidity, and mortality associated with lower extremity (LE) ulcers in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Retrospective review of Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA, residents who first fulfilled the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA in 1980-2007 with followup to death, migration, or April 2012. Only LE ulcers that developed after the diagnosis of RA were included.
Results: The study included 813 patients with 9771 total person-years of followup. Of them, 125 developed LE ulcers (total of 171 episodes), corresponding to a rate of occurrence of 1.8 episodes per 100 person-years (95% CI: 1.5, 2.0 per 100 person-yrs). The cumulative incidence of first LE ulcers was 4.8% at 5 years after diagnosis of RA and increased to 26.2% by 25 years. Median time for the LE ulcer to heal was 30 days. Ten of 171 episodes (6%) led to amputation. LE ulcers in RA were associated with increased mortality (HR 2.42; 95% CI 1.71, 3.42), adjusted for age, sex, and calendar year. Risk factors for LE ulcers included age (HR 1.73 per 10-yr increase; 95% CI 1.47, 2.04), rheumatoid factor positivity (HR 1.63; 95% CI 1.05, 2.53), presence of rheumatoid nodules (HR 2.14; 95% CI 1.39, 3.31), and venous thromboembolism (HR 2.16; 95% CI 1.07, 4.36).
Conclusion: LE ulcers are common among patients with RA. The cumulative incidence increased by 1% per year. A significant number require amputation. Patients with RA who have LE ulcers are at a 2-fold risk for premature mortality.