Intensive lipid lowering in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and previous myocardial infarction: an explorative analysis from the incremental decrease in endpoints through aggressive lipid lowering (IDEAL) trial

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 Feb;50(2):324-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keq295. Epub 2010 Sep 30.


Objectives: Documentation on secondary prevention with statins in RA patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) is limited, despite the increased risk of CHD in RA. Our objective was to describe the effect of statin treatment on lipid levels and cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in patients with RA who participated in the incremental decrease in endpoints through aggressive lipid lowering (IDEAL) study.

Methods: Patients with previous myocardial infarction (MI) were randomly assigned to atorvastatin 80 mg daily or simvastatin 20-40 mg daily and followed for 4.8 years. We focused on changes in lipid levels in the current exploratory analyses and used the composite secondary endpoint in the IDEAL study: any CVD event. Out of the 8888 patients in the IDEAL study, 87 had RA.

Results: RA patients had significantly lower baseline levels of total- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than patients without RA; 4.8 + 1.0 vs 5.1 + 1.0 (P = 0.023) and 2.9 + 0.9 vs 3.1 + 0.9 mmol/l (P = 0.034) for total cholesterol and LDL, respectively. The lipid reductions with either simvastatin or atorvastatin were comparable. Cardiovascular events occurred in 23/87 (26.4%) of the RA patients compared with 2523/8801 (28.7%; P = 0.70) in the general IDEAL population. The occurrence of these events was not related to the duration of RA, age, gender or treatment assignment.

Conclusion: Patients with RA and previous MI had comparable lipid-lowering effect and similar rates of cardiovascular events as those without RA, although the RA patients had lower baseline cholesterol levels than patients without RA.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Atorvastatin
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Female
  • Heptanoic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control*
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Simvastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Pyrroles
  • Cholesterol
  • Atorvastatin
  • Simvastatin