Disease duration and severity impacts on long-term cardiovascular events in Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis

J Cardiol. 2014 Nov;64(5):366-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jjcc.2014.02.018. Epub 2014 Mar 28.


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) increases the mortality and morbidity of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the relationship between RA and the risk of CVD in the Japanese population remains unclear.

Methods and results: This study comprised 571 RA patients who were admitted to Juntendo University Hospital from January 1990 to December 2000. Cardiovascular events (CVEs) were defined as cardiac death, acute coronary syndrome (ACS), symptomatic stroke, and congestive heart failure. During follow-up (mean 11.7 ± 5.8 years), 7.5% of the patients died from all causes and 11.0% experienced CVEs. The morbidity of stroke and ACS was 3.6 and 2.5 per 1000 person-years, respectively. The mean RA disease duration at enrolment was significantly longer in patients who experienced CVEs than in those who did not experience CVEs (15.0 ± 12.7 years vs. 10. 8 ± 9.7 years; p = 0.01). Physical disabilities due to RA were more severe in patients who experienced CVEs than in those who did not experience CVEs. Patients with a long RA disease duration showed significantly higher event rates (p = 0.033). Cox proportional hazards analysis identified a longer RA duration as an independent risk factor for CVD (hazard ratio 1.57, 95% CI 1.09-2.30, p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Japanese RA patients showed a relatively high incidence of CVD, despite the fact that they had few coronary risk factors. The RA disease duration was an independent risk factor for CVEs.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Inflammation; Risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors