Objectives: Vertebral fracture assessment (VFA)-detected abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) has been validated as an indicator of increased risk of vertebral fractures (VFs) in other populations but this relationship in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unclear. We assess the prevalence of AAC on VFA scans and its potential relationship with prevalent VFs in a cohort of RA women.
Methods: We enrolled 250 women with RA. VFA images, and scans of the lumbar spine and proximal femur were obtained using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The presence/severity of VFs and AAC were carried out using validated approaches.
Results: AAC was detected in 95 of 250 (38%) eligible subjects and 83 (33.2%) had at least one VF. Significantly subjects with VFs had a higher AAC score (3.4 ± 3.8 versus 0.7 ± 1.4; p˂0.001) and higher prevalence of AAC than those without VFs (65% versus 26%; P˂0.001). The group with VFs tended to be older, had more menopausal women, and lower lumbar spine and total hip BMD than those without VF. They also had a long-standing disease and high DAS 28-CRP, a great steroid cumulative dose, and a high prevalence of rheumatoid factor (RF). In multivariate analyses, a significant association was noted between prevalent VFs and age of patients, RA disease activity, presence of densitometric osteoporosis, RF, and VFA-detected AAC, whereas there was no significant association with steroid cumulative dose and disease duration.
Conclusion: VFA is a convenient tool for the diagnosis of VFs and AAC. In this cohort, VFA-detected AAC was independently associated with prevalent VFs.
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