The higher the score a rheumatoid arthritis patient receives on the multi-biomarker disease activity (MBDA) blood test — also called Vectra DA, which ranks disease activity on a scale of 1 to 100 — the likelier that patient is to be hospitalized for serious infection, to have a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or coronary heart disease. That’s according to research in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

MBDA tests 12 proteins, hormones, and growth factors which are associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

“In this large rheumatoid arthritis population predominantly consisting of older individuals, higher MBDA scores were associated with increased risk for hospitalized infection, myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease events,” wrote the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Jeffrey Curtis and colleagues.

Curtis and colleagues studied nearly 17,500 patients for serious infection, and nearly 16,800 patients for heart attack and heart disease. Higher MBDA scores yielded statistically significant associations with higher serious infection rates, as well as significantly higher rates of heart disease and attacks.

Prior research had shown that RA disease activity correlated with serious infections and heart attacks and disease. “However, limited data exist in large-scale population-based studies, and further research is needed to validate this correlation,” according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Pathways.

“The current study is novel in that it leveraged a large administrative data source linked to a laboratory test provider database to address a question that neither data source by itself could address,” the study authors wrote, as quoted in MedPage.