Study Estimates Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in Patients With Psoriatic Arthritis

Heidi Splete

March 07, 2022

The prevalence of metabolic syndrome varies according to how it is defined, but approximately 30% of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients met the criteria in a cohort study of 724 individuals, as did approximately 23%-63% of patients across multiple studies, investigators from Spain report.

Previous studies of people with PsA in particular suggest they are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and have a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, prompting recommendations on cardiovascular risk management for patients with PsA, wrote the authors, Ana Urruticoechea-Arana, MD, of the department of rheumatology, Hospital Can Misses, Ibiza, Spain, and colleagues.

However, assessing the prevalence of metabolic syndrome remains a challenge because the definition varies across studies, they noted.

For a more thorough assessment of the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in this population, the researchers conducted a study using two sources: a systematic literature review of 18 studies published up to March 2019, and data on patients with PsA enrolled in the CARMA (Spanish Cardiovascular in Rheumatology) project, a longitudinal cohort observational study of adults with inflammatory diseases in Spain. The findings were published March 1 in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

The literature review included a total of a total of 2,452 patients with PsA, with a mean age between 42 and 59 years, and a mean disease duration ranging from 3 to 14 years.

The definitions of metabolic syndrome varied; the most common was the definition from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NECP ATP III). Other definitions used in the studies included those issued by the International Diabetes Federation, the World Health Organization, and the American Heart Association.

Across these studies, the rate of metabolic syndrome ranged from 23.5% to 62.9%. Prevalence was similar between men and women. One study that included patients with a PsA disease duration of only 3 years showed a prevalence of 38%, similar to the average prevalence overall. Another study showed a significantly higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with PsA and cutaneous psoriasis, compared with those without psoriasis (40.8% vs. 13.16%; P = .006).

The CARMA study included 724 patients with PsA; 45.4% were women and 21.8% were smokers. The mean age of the population in this study was 51 years, and the mean disease duration was 9 years. Overall, 222 patients (30.7%) met at least three criteria for metabolic syndrome, based on the NCEP ATP III definition. The most common abnormal findings for traditional cardiovascular risk factors in the CARMA cohort were high blood pressure (66.8%), hyperglycemia (42.6%), and hypertriglyceridemia (30.6%).

Despite the variation in prevalence of metabolic syndrome, depending on the definition used, the authors wrote, "It can be stated that the rate of [metabolic syndrome] in patients with PsA is in general very high, especially if we take into account the mean age of patients included in the studies."

"These findings support the hypotheses that this increase in the inflammatory pathway in PsA may contribute a higher risk of cardiovascular events and [metabolic syndrome] in patients with PsA than patients with psoriasis alone, the risk being even higher in severe PsA," and that insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerotic events "may have a common inflammatory basis," the researchers wrote in their discussion of the results.

The study findings were limited by several factors, most importantly the variation in definitions of metabolic syndrome in the literature review, which limits the generalizability of the results, the researchers said. Limitations of the CARMA study include the focus only on patients who were being cared for in hospitals, which might yield an overestimation of metabolic syndrome, they added.

However, the results support findings from previous studies and highlight the need for proper assessment of body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with PsA at the onset of disease, they said.

"Furthermore, it is necessary to conduct more research to standardize (and modify as appropriate) the definition of [metabolic syndrome] and establish the best strategy for managing it in these patients," they concluded.

The study was funded by an independent grant from UCB Pharma. One author disclosed receiving grants from Pfizer, Abbvie, Novartis, Roche, UCB, Sanofi, BMS, Lilly, MSD, and Janssen. Lead author Urruticoechea-Arana and the other authors had no disclosures.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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