Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Excess recurrent cardiac events in rheumatoid arthritis patients with acute coronary syndrome
  1. K M J Douglas1,
  2. A V Pace1,
  3. G J Treharne1,
  4. A Saratzis1,
  5. P Nightingale4,
  6. N Erb1,
  7. M J Banks2,
  8. G D Kitas3
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, Dudley, West Midlands, UK
  2. 2Department of Cardiology, Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology, Division of Immunity and Infection, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4Department of Medical Statistics, University of Birmingham
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr George D Kitas
    Department of Rheumatology, Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, Russells Hall Hospital, Esk House, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 2HQ, UK; g.d.kitas{at}


Background: Cardiovascular mortality is increased in rheumatoid arthritis. Possible reasons include an increased incidence of ischaemic heart disease or worse outcome after acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Objectives: To assess the outcome of ACS in rheumatoid arthritis compared with case matched controls in the context of underlying cardiac risk factors, clinical presentation, and subsequent management.

Methods: 40 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ACS identified from coronary care admission registers between 1990 and 2000 were case matched as closely as possible for age, sex, classical cardiovascular risk factors, type and severity of ACS, and admission date (±3 months) with 40 controls. A standardised proforma was used for detailed case note review.

Results: Age, sex, other cardiovascular risk factors, and type and severity of presenting ACS were not significantly different between cases and controls. Recurrent cardiac events were commoner in rheumatoid arthritis (23/40, 57.5%) than controls (12/40, 30%) (p = 0.013); there were 16/40 deaths in rheumatoid arthritis (40%) v 6/40 (15%) in controls (p = 0.012). Recurrent events occurred earlier in rheumatoid arthritis (log rank survival, p = 0.05). Presentation with chest pain occurred in all controls compared with 33/40 rheumatoid patients (82%) (p = 0.006); collapse occurred in one control (2.5%) v 7/40 rheumatoid patients (17.5%) (p = 0.025). Treatment during the ACS was not significantly different in the two groups.

Conclusions: Recurrent ischaemic events and death occur more often after ACS in rheumatoid arthritis. Atypical presentation is commoner in rheumatoid arthritis. There is an urgent need to develop identification and intervention strategies for ACS specific to this high risk group.

  • ACS, acute coronary syndrome
  • CCU, coronary care unit
  • NQWMI, non-Q-wave myocardial infarction
  • NSAID, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
  • STEACS, ST elevation acute coronary syndrome
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • myocardial infarction

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 3 August 2005