New Research Ties Rare Inflammatory Disease to Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

June 24, 2022 (Vancouver) – Researchers at Arthritis Research Canada have found that people with a rare inflammatory disease known as granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) have an increased risk of serious, life-threatening blood clots.

Our research finds that people with GPA have a 190% increased risk of the blood clot condition venous thromboembolism (VTE). Researchers looked at the two categories of VTE: pulmonary embolism (PE), wherein the blood clot travels to the lungs, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), wherein the blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg, pelvis, or arm. People with GPA were found to have a 370% increased risk of PE, but no increased risk of DVT.

“These blood-clotting conditions are potentially fatal for patients, but with the correct intervention, they can be prevented,” said Dr. Antonio Aviña-Zubieta, a rheumatologist and senior scientist at Arthritis Research Canada.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), is characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels, which can restrict blood flow, impact organ function, and even damage vital organs like kidneys or lungs. Other complications include vision or hearing loss, heart disease, and stroke. Luckily, this complex disease is treatable with corticosteroids and other drugs that suppress the immune system to control inflammation.

Previous studies have also tied this disease to an increased risk of serious blood clots soon after diagnosis. One UK-based study found that 31 per cent of people with the condition developed serious blood clots within a month of receiving a diagnosis.

“These findings have the potential to save lives,” Aviña-Zubieta said. “Clinicians need to be aware that patients who have GPA are more likely to experience serious blood clots, especially within the first year after a GPA diagnosis.”

It is estimated that GPA affects 3 out of every 100,000 people. While this rare disease can occur at any age, onset is typically between 40 and 65 years of age. This research calls for increased vigilance and preventative monitoring of people living with granulomatosis with polyangiitis. Further study is needed to investigate prevention treatments.

To learn more about this research, please click here.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with arthritis. Patients are at the highest risk for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in the legs and lungs in the first year after diagnosis, when inflammation is also at its peak. To learn more about how Arthritis Research Canada is addressing this serious complication for people living with different types of arthritis, please click here.


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Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Meeka Marsolais
Marketing and Communications Officer
604-207-4010 or mmarsolais@arthritisresearch.ca

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