Objectives: To investigate a) the cardiovascular (CV) mortality in a clinical cohort of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in comparison with the general population over 15 years, b) the trend in this CV mortality during the study period, and c) for a broad range of predictors, which baseline variables predict CV mortality.
Methods: In 1997, a sample of 1222 patients was randomly selected from the register of a rheumatology outpatient clinic in Amsterdam. Their CV mortality between 1997 and 2012 was obtained from Statistics Netherlands. The standardised mortality ratio (SMR) for CV mortality was calculated. A linear poisson regression analysis was performed to investigate if there was a trend in SMR over time. A Cox regression analysis was performed to determine which baseline variables predicted CV mortality.
Results: Mean age of the population at baseline was 60.4 (SD 15.4) years and 72.6% of the patients were women. Estimated SMR (95% confidence interval) for CV mortality was 1.24 (1.05, 1.43). The SMR decreased with 3% annually (p=0.16). Higher age, higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate, having CV comorbidity and diabetes mellitus (DM) were predictors for CV mortality.
Conclusions: CV mortality among patients with RA in the past 15 years was still higher than in the general population. CV mortality decrease was not statistically significant. As CV mortality in RA is still higher than in the general population, continued attention for CV diseases in RA is important. Both tight control of disease activity and good care for comorbid conditions (CV diseases and DM) are advocated.