(HealthDay News) – A risk score based on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease characteristics and comorbidities has been developed and validated for assessing the one-year risk of serious infection, according to research published in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

To develop a score to predict the one-year risk of serious infection, Cynthia S Crowson, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and colleagues used data from 584 RA patients from the population-based cohort of Olmsted County, MN, who had incident RA ascertained in 1955–1994 and were followed until January 2000. The score was validated in a cohort of patients with incident RA ascertained in 1995–2007.

The researchers found that, during a mean follow-up of 9.9 years, 252 of the 584 participants in the original cohort had at least one serious infection. The risk score was calculated using patient age; previous serious infection; corticosteroid use; elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate; extraarticular manifestations of RA; and comorbidities, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes mellitus, and alcoholism. The risk score performance had good discrimination (C statistic 0.8) in validation analysis.

“In conclusion, our risk score for serious infection has potential clinical utility for predicting the occurrence of infection within the next year in patients with RA,” the authors write. “Assessment of the risk of serious infection in patients with RA can influence clinical decision-making and inform strategies to reduce and prevent the occurrence of these infections.”

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Genentech, which supported the study.

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