Patient Perception of Cardiovascular Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) compared with age- and sex-matched controls. The objective of our study was to measure the knowledge of patients with RA about the association between their disease and cardiovascular (CV) risk and to measure the frequency of counseling by physicians based on patient report.


A telephone survey was conducted among patients with RA enrolled in the Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America RA registry to collect data on medical and social history and on knowledge about CVD risk in RA and how they learned about that risk. Multivariable logistic regression models were performed to determine the factors associated with patients’ knowledge and factors influencing likelihood of physician counseling. The odds ratios (ORs) represent adjusted multivariable results.


Of 185 patients with RA included in the study, 87 patients (47%) were aware that RA was a CV risk factor. Older age (OR 0.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.4-0.8 per decade) and smoking (OR 0.4; 95% CI 0.1-0.9) were associated with low awareness, whereas disease duration of more than 10 years (OR 5.2; 95% CI 2.2-12.1) was positively associated with patient knowledge. Counseling by physicians, mostly rheumatologists, on CV risk in RA was reported by 47 patients (25%). Disease duration of more than 10 years (OR 3.9; 95% CI 1.2-13.1) was positively associated with patient-reported counseling. Patients with hypertension were less likely to report counseling (OR 0.4; 95% CI 0.2-0.9).


Our study demonstrated low patient awareness of CV risk with RA and low rates of patient-reported counseling by physicians. This is an unmet need in clinical practice, which may be overcome by multimodal approaches such as developing websites, organizing symposiums, and involving health care providers at various levels.