Objectives To compare lipid profiles in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in non-RA subjects during the 5 years before and 5 years after the RA incidence/index date.
Methods Lipid measures were abstracted in a population-based incident cohort of patients with RA (1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria) first diagnosed between 1 January 1988 and 1 January 2008 and in non-RA subjects. Random-effects models adjusting for age, sex and calendar year were used to examine trends in lipid profiles, accounting for multiple measurements for each subject.
Results The study population included a cohort of 577 patients with RA (a total of 3088 lipid measurements) and 540 non-RA subjects (a total of 3048 lipid measurements). There were significant decreases in total (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) levels in the RA cohort during the 5 years before RA, compared with the non-RA cohort (p<0.001). Decreases of 0.58 mmol/l for TC and 0.61 mmol/l for LDL were noted in RA compared with decreases of 0.09 mmol/l for TC and 0.22 mmol/l for LDL in the non-RA cohort. Trends in other lipid measures (triglycerides (TGs) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL)) were similar in RA and non-RA cohorts during the 5 years before and 5 years after the RA incidence/index date. During the 5 years before the RA incidence/index date, the proportion of patients with RA with elevated TC or LDL measures, but not with abnormal HDL and TG measures, significantly decreased compared with non-RA subjects. Lipid-lowering drugs (statins in particular) were less often prescribed to patients with RA than to non-RA subjects (34% vs 41%; p=0.02).
Conclusion TC and LDL levels and the prevalence of abnormal TC or LDL measures decreased significantly during the 5 years before the RA incidence/index date in patients with RA as compared with the non-RA cohort. These trends in lipid profile in RA are unlikely to be solely due to lipid-lowering treatment.
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Competing interests None.
Funding This work was supported by an unrestricted grant from Roche Pharmaceuticals and also funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, NIAMS (R01 AR46849) and the National Institutes of Health (AR-30582) US Public Health Service.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the approval obtained from Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center Institutional Review Boards.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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