The burden of cognitive impairment in persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is significant, according to recent study findings. Shin and associates at the University of California, San Francisco, explored the prevalence and possible predictors of cognitive impairment in persons with RA. Patients from a longitudinal cohort study participated in a study visit that included a range of physical, psychosocial, and biologic metrics. Cognitive function was assessed with a battery of 12 standardized neuropsychological measures that yielded 16 indices. Patients were classified as “impaired” if they performed 1 standard deviation below age-based population norms on at least 4 of the 16 indices.
The proportion of persons who were classified as cognitively impaired was 31%. Education, income, corticosteroid use, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors independently predicted cognitive impairment, controlling for sex, race, disease duration, disease severity, C-reactive protein level, and depression. Persons with cognitive impairment were more likely to have low education and low income levels, use oral corticosteroids, and have increased CVD risk factors.
Future studies are warranted to identify specific contributors to cognitive impairment, it was noted. The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research, an American College of Rheumatology publication.