The recognition and assessment of cardiovascular risk in people with rheumatoid arthritis in primary care: a questionnaire-based study of general practitioners

Musculoskeletal Care. 2011 Jun;9(2):69-74. doi: 10.1002/msc.196. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Objectives: To investigate how well recognized the association between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and excess cardiovascular (CV) risk is within primary care and the current assessment strategies being employed by general practitioners (GPs).

Methods: Questionnaires were sent to all 376 GPs in the Worcestershire Primary Care Trust.

Results: Thirty-two per cent of GPs identified RA as an independent risk factor for CV disease. Fifteen per cent and 34%, respectively, assessed their RA patients for primary and secondary prevention of their CV risks. Of those GPs who made an assessment, 18.4% adjusted the calculated risk derived from standard charts. The frequency of assessment was greater among GPs who had received a form of education about the association between CV disease and RA. However, of the GPs identifying this susceptibility, only 40% performed any form of primary prevention risk assessment.

Conclusions: At present, the excess risk of CV disease conferred by RA is under-recognized and under-assessed in primary care. Currently, educational resources on this topic targeted at GPs are lacking and may in part account for our findings. However, even when GPs did identify the risk of CV disease in RA or had received education about it, this did not consistently change their clinical management. Further work to promote knowledge and management strategies for CV disease in RA is therefore needed to improve the care of patients with this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • General Practice
  • General Practitioners*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires