Ann Rheum Dis 70:929-934 doi:10.1136/ard.2010.143396
  • Clinical and epidemiological research
  • Extended report

The risk of myocardial infarction in rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes mellitus: a Danish nationwide cohort study

Editor's Choice
  1. Peter Riis Hansen1
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, Gentofte University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine – Rheumatology section, Gentofte University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Jesper Lindhardsen, Department of Cardiology, section PA (Post 67), Gentofte Hospital, Niels Andersensvej 65, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark; jeslin01{at}
  • Accepted 23 January 2011
  • Published Online First 9 March 2011


Objectives To examine in a nationwide cohort whether the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is comparable to the risk in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM).

Methods The study included the entire Danish population followed from 1 January 1997 until 31 December 2006. Through individual level-linkage of nationwide administrative registers, the authors identified subjects who developed RA and DM. The risk of MI was analysed using multivariable Poisson regression models including data on cardioprotective drugs, comorbidity and socioeconomic status.

Results From a total of 4 311 022 individuals included in the cohort, 10 477 and 130 215 individuals developed RA and DM respectively. The overall incidence rate ratio (IRR) of MI in RA was 1.7 (95% CI 1.5 to 1.9), which was similar to the risk in DM (1.7 (1.6 to 1.8); p=0.64 for difference). The risk was significantly increased in all groups when stratifying on age and gender, with higher RRs in younger patients. This was especially pronounced in women <50 years with RA or DM, who were subject to a sixfold increase in RR. The RA-related risk of MI was unaffected by the duration of pharmacological RA treatment and corresponded to the overall risk of MI observed in non-RA subjects, who were on the average 10 years older.

Conclusions RA is associated with the same risk of MI as DM, and the risk of MI in RA patients generally corresponded to the risk in non-RA subjects 10 years older.


  • See Editorial, p 881

  • Funding The study was supported by an unrestricted grant from the Danish Rheumatism Association.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by The Danish Data Protection Agency (ref. 2007-41-1667).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.