Anne Bass, MD: Thromboembolic Events in Patients With Rheumatic Disease

Anne Bass, MD, rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, explains why patients with rheumatic diseases are at risk for thromboembolism.


Why are thromboembolic events a special concern for patients with rheumatic disease?

So, we’ve learned that there’s a strong connection between the immune system inflammation and the clotting system. When your immune system is active, it actually makes you more prone to clotting. When patients have rheumatic diseases—not so much when they’re quiet, but when they’re active—almost any rheumatic disease, they’re at higher risk for blood clotting. It’s particularly true of conditions like granulomatosis with polyangiitis, which we used to call Wegener’s, but it’s really been shown to be the case with any rheumatic disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, for example, where the risk is about 2 and a half times when your disease is active than it would be if you didn’t have rheumatoid arthritis.