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Coronary and Death Risks Go Up in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Coronary and Death Risks Go Up in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk for acute coronary syndromes, such as angina and myocardial infarction, than the general population and are at higher risk for death after these syndromes, Swedish researchers found.

The increased risk of acute coronary syndromes and subsequent death in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is not the result of other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are treated with medications aimed at secondary prevention of acute coronary syndromes with a frequency similar to that in the general population.

Studies have shown that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk for cardiovascular disease and present with ST elevation myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death with alarming frequency. Further research has revealed an increase in short-term mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis not otherwise explained by comorbidities.

Ängla Mantel and fellow researchers sought to determine whether patients with rheumatoid arthritis were at higher risk for recurrent acute coronary syndrome and long-term mortality after acute coronary syndromes and whether they received appropriate cardioprotective secondary pharmacologic treatment after acute coronary syndromes. They presented their findings in a recent Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases article.

The study

The authors performed a cohort study consisting of 1135 patients with prevalent rheumatoid arthritis and 3184 comparator subjects in whom acute coronary syndrome developed and who did not have rheumatoid arthritis. Final follow-up was at 4 years.

The results

• Of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 79.6% were still alive at 90 days after an acute coronary syndrome.

• Of non–rheumatoid arthritis patients, 86.1% were alive at 90 days after an acute coronary syndrome.

• At 365 days after an acute coronary syndrome, 70.7% and 79.6% of rheumatoid arthritis and non–rheumatoid arthritis patients, respectively, were still alive.

• The rate of recurrent acute coronary syndrome was 30% higher in patients who had rheumatoid arthritis than in those who did not (hazard ratio [HR] at 1-year, 1.35; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09-1.68; at final follow-up, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.12-1.60). When propensity adjustment was performed, the HRs remained significant (1 year, 1.28, 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.60); complete follow-up, 1.25 (95% CI, 1.05 to 1.50).

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