Objective: To estimate the 10-year absolute risk of cardiovascular (CV) events in newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and the potential contribution of CV risk factors to absolute risk assessment.
Methods: A population-based incidence cohort of RA patients (defined according to the American College of Rheumatology 1987 criteria) was assembled and compared with an age- and sex-matched non-RA cohort. Data were collected on CV risk factors and CV events. Cox regression models were used to estimate the 10-year risk of a combined CV end point, adjusting for CV risk factors. Subjects were classified into 5 risk categories based on their 10-year absolute risk.
Results: The absolute CV risk in RA patients was similar to that in non-RA subjects who were 5-10 years older. The absolute risk varied substantially according to the presence of CV risk factors. The 10-year absolute CV risk among 60-69-year-old RA patients with no risk factors was 16.8%, but rose to 60.4% if risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and obesity were present. Among RA patients with a low body mass index, in addition to the above risk factors, the 10-year absolute CV risk rose to 86.2%.
Conclusion: More than half of the newly diagnosed RA patients who were 50-59 years of age and all of those >60 years of age had a >10% risk of CV disease within 10 years of their RA incidence and should be targeted for specific CV risk reduction strategies tailored to their personal risk profiles.