Cardiovascular risk factor management in patients with RA compared to matched non-RA patients

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2016 May;55(5):809-16. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kev427. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


Objective: RA is associated with a 50-60% increase in risk of cardiovascular (CV) death. This study aimed to compare management of CV risk factors in RA and matched non-RA patients.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using UK clinical practice data. Patients presenting with an incident RA diagnosis were matched 1:4 to non-RA patients based on a propensity score for RA, entry year, CV risk category and treatment received at index date (date of RA diagnosis). Patients tested and treated for CV risk factors as well as those attaining CV risk factor management goals were evaluated in both groups.

Results: Between 1987 and 2010, 24 859 RA patients were identified and matched to 87 304 non-RA patients. At index date, groups had similar baseline characteristics. Annual blood pressure, lipids and diabetes-related testing were similar in both groups, although CRP and ESR were higher in RA patients at diagnosis and decreased over time. RA patients prescribed antihypertensives increased from 38.2% at diagnosis to 45.7% at 5 years, from 14.0 to 20.6% for lipid-lowering treatments and from 5.1 to 6.4% for antidiabetics. Similar treatment percentages were observed in non-RA patients, although slightly lower for antihypertensives. Modest (2%) but significantly lower attainment of lipid and diabetes goals at 1 year was observed in RA patients.

Conclusion: There were no differences between groups in the frequency of testing and treatment of CV risk factors. Higher CV risk in RA patients seems unlikely to be driven by differences in traditional CV risk factor management.

Keywords: RA; cardiovascular; cohort; diabetes; dyslipidaemia; goal; hypertension; management; prescription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Disease Management
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Hypolipidemic Agents