Impact of Changes in Inflammation on Estimated Ten-Year Cardiovascular Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2018 Sep;70(9):1392-1398. doi: 10.1002/art.40532. Epub 2018 Aug 1.


Objective: Current validated cardiovascular (CV) risk estimates were developed in populations with relatively stable levels of inflammation, whereas patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) routinely experience significant changes in inflammation. This study was undertaken to test whether changes in inflammation affect estimated CV risk as measured using validated population-based risk calculators.

Methods: Participants in a prospective RA cohort who experienced a decrease or an increase of ≥10 mg/liter in the C-reactive protein (CRP) level at 2 consecutive time points 1 year apart (CRP decrease group and CRP increase group, respectively) were included in this study. We estimated 10-year CV risk using the following calculators: Framingham Risk Score, 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score, Reynolds Risk Score (RRS), and QRISK2. Of these calculators, only the RRS includes a variable addressing the CRP level. Paired t-tests were performed to compare risk scores at baseline and 1-year follow-up. We calculated the correlations between the changes in risk scores and changes in pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (pro BNP), a surrogate marker of CV risk.

Results: One hundred eighty RA patients were included in the study (mean age 57.8 years, 84% female, 80% seropositive). Of the calculators studied, only the RRS was sensitive to changes in inflammation; an increase in inflammation was associated with increased estimated CV risk (P < 0.0001), and only the RRS was correlated with changes in proBNP (r = 0.17, P = 0.03).

Conclusion: Our data showed no significant change in CV risk estimated using validated general population CV risk calculators except for the RRS. These findings suggest that CV risk may be modulated by changes in inflammation in RA, which is not typically considered when using existing CV risk calculators.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • C-Reactive Protein