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Carol Eustice

Autoimmune Arthritis Patients at Higher Risk for Blood Clots in Lung

By November 28, 2011

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People with autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, who are hospitalized, may have an increased risk of developing a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). A report, published online November 26, 2011 in The Lancet, outlines the seriousness of the matter and the need for preventive treatment among hospitalized autoimmune patients. A pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening.

Researchers analyzed 535,538 patients with autoimmune conditions who were admitted to the hospital in Sweden. There were 33 different autoimmune conditions among the patients and all were associated with a significantly increased risk of pulmonary embolism in the first year following hospital admission. Some of the autoimmune conditions showed a particularly high risk for pulomary embolism -- immune thrombocytopenic purpura (10 times the risk), polyarteritis nodosa (13 times the risk), polymyositis or dermatomyositis (16 times the risk), and systemic lupus erythematosus (10 times the risk).

The risks were the same for men and women and age didn't affect the risk. If there was any good news, it was that the risk decreased over time. Researchers concluded that more studies are needed to assess the association between inflammation and pulmonary embolism.

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