Jeffrey Curtis, MD, MS, MPH: The Responsibility of Cardiovascular Risk Management in Rheumatology

September 14, 2020

An expert discusses the role of the rheumatologist in managing cardiovascular risk factors as well as current gaps in the field.

Rheumatologists should be more actively engaged in the management of cardiovascular risk factors caused by underlying rheumatic conditions.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Jeffrey Curtis, MD, MS, MPH, Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, talked about the current gaps in rheumatological care of patients with cardiovascular risk.

The big question in this domain of care is on whom, or which specialist, does cardiovascular risk management fall.

“There’s often this tension with rheumatologists who say, ‘I don’t really want to mess with managing blood pressure, or hyperlipidemia. I’ve got a limited amount of time to do smoking cessation and lifestyle counseling.”

Curtis considered this hesitation or pushback to be a current shortcoming in the field. In fact, he noted that rheumatologists may tend to see patients with high cardiovascular risk more frequently than other specialists or the primary care physician.

However, he acknowledged that there is an ever-so-slight shift in the medical landscape that is just beginning to take place, and which can go even further.

“I think there is a growing recognition that rheumatologists are probably on the frontlines, and they need to increasingly recognize that,” he said. “At a minimum, they can coordinate care with respect to cardiovascular risk factor stratification as well as mitigation in order to get these risk factors under control.”