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Acta Reumatol Port. 2016 Jul-Sep;41(3):213-219.

Incidence and predictors of cardiovascular events in a cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.



An excess in cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality has been recognized in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients when compared to the general population. Given the paucity of prospective data, our aim was to estimate the incidence of CV events and the contribution of traditional CVD risk factors and RA-related parameters to future events.


Incident fatal and non-fatal CV events (hospitalizations due to unstable angina, myocardial infarction, coronary artery revascularization procedures, stroke, or CV death) were assessed in a prospective cohort of RA women followed since 2007 and without CV events at cohort entry. The presence of traditional CV risk factors, disease characteristics, medication, carotid ultrasound, and biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial activation were evaluated at baseline. Univariate Cox proportional hazard models were used to identify risk factors for CV events.


Among 106 women followed over 565 patient-years we identified 4 CV events (1 fatal stroke, 2 myocardial infarction and 1 unstable angina), which contributed to an incidence rate of 7 per 1000 person-years (95%CI 2.0- 13.9). Patients who developed CV events were older, but the distribution of other traditional CV risk factors was otherwise similar in both groups. Also, corticosteroid dosage and proportion of patients with carotid atherosclerotic plaques was higher in those with CV events. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (HR 1.036; 95%CI 1.005-1.067) and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) serum levels (HR 1.002; 95%CI 1.000-1.003) significantly contributed to CV events. These results remained significant after adjusting for patients' age.


We found an incidence of cardiovascular events in women with RA of 7 per 1000 patent-years. This value is similar to that found in other Portuguese cohort of RA patients1 and much higher than the incidence reported for the general Portuguese population. Markers of inflammation and endothelial activation contributed significantly to CV events, but the limited number of events prevents further analysis.

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