Cardiovascular events in ankylosing spondylitis: an updated meta-analysis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2015 Apr;44(5):551-555. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2014.10.007. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Objectives: Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. In the guidelines, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is considered to have an equally high cardiovascular risk. The literature findings remain controversial. This study aims to assess the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke in AS patients.

Methods: An updated meta-analysis with a new systematic literature review using PubMed was conducted up to January 2014. Incidence of MI or stroke was calculated by metaproportion.

Results: In addition to the 11 previously included studies, six new studies assessed the occurrence of MI or stroke in AS patients. (1) MI. A total of 2131 MI were reported in AS patients (n = 27,532) over a mean follow-up of 15 years: incidence 5.3% (1.6%-11.0%), i.e., 0.36/100 pyrs. Seven studies revealed 17,410 MI [2.5% (95% CI: 1.8%-3.4%)] in the control group (n = 1,349,964). Meta-analysis of the seven longitudinal studies showed a significant increase in MI [OR = 1.60 (95% CI: 1.32-1.93)] in AS patients. (2) Stroke. In 11 longitudinal studies (n = 51,990), 1807 strokes were reported in AS patients over 17.6 years of follow-up: incidence 3.6% (1.5%-6.5%), i.e., 0.24/100 pyrs. Three studies reported 22,899 strokes in controls (n = 1,239,041), giving an incidence of 1.78% (1.75%-1.80%). A significant increase in stroke [OR = 1.50 (95% CI: 1.39-1.62)] in AS patients was found.

Conclusion: AS patients appear to have a higher risk of MI and stroke. Management of cardiovascular risk factors and control of systemic inflammation should be taken into account in AS to decrease this high cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Ankylosing spondylitis; Myocardial infarction; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / complications*