Background: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) compared to the general population, similar to the CVD risk in patients with diabetes mellitus. However, there are no controlled studies investigating the incidence of cardiovascular (CV) events in RA patients with follow up of more than 20 years.
Objectives: The objectives of the current study were to investigate the incidence rates of CV events in a long-term follow up cohort of RA patients, and to compare these to a similar cohort representing the general population, ie. The Hoorn study.
Methods: The CARRÉ study is an ongoing prospective cohort study, which started in 2001, investigating CV mortality and morbidity in 353 randomly selected patients with RA. Primary endpoints, i.e. verified medical history of coronary, cerebral or peripheral arterial disease, were determined at baseline, and after three, ten, fifteen and twenty years of follow up. Patients were censored at the date of an experienced CV event or their death. Incidence density rates per 100 patient years were calculated. Data were compared to results from the Hoorn study, a Dutch cohort study of glucose metabolism and other CV risk factors that began in 1989. All 2,484 participants were subject to an extensive and repeated CV screening program similar to that used in the CARRÉ study.
Results: After 20 years of follow up 118 patients (33%) developed at least one CV event in the Carré group. Mean (SD) follow up time was 11 (6) years with a total of 3,500 years at risk and an incidence rate of 3.4 per 100 patient-years; this is slightly up from the figure reported at 15 years, i.e. 3.2 per 100 patient-years. A CV event-free survival curve is shown in figure 1. After 30 years of follow up, 295 participants of the Hoorn study had developed a CV event, during a mean follow up time 20 (8) years. Total time at risk was 50,000 years, with an incidence rate of 0.6 CV events per 100 patient years.
Conclusion: In our cohort the incidence rate of CV events in RA patients has remained consistently high when compared with the general population, despite better control of RA inflammation in recent years. This again confirms the need for timely CVD-risk screening and management.
References: Agca R, Hopman L, Laan KJC, van Halm VP, Peters MJL, Smulders YM, et al. Cardiovascular Event Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis Compared with Type 2 Diabetes: A 15-year Longitudinal Study. J Rheumatol. 2020;47(3):316-24.
Disclosure of Interests: None declared
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