Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality, when compared with general population, largely due to enhanced atherosclerotic disease. In this work, we aimed at assessing both occurrence and predictive factors of subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis in RA. Methods: From January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, consecutive participants with RA, admitted to Italian Rheumatology Units, were assessed in the GIRRCS (Gruppo Italiano di Ricerca in Reumatologia Clinica e Sperimentale) cohort. After that, those participants were followed up in a 3-year, prospective, observational study, assessing the occurrence of subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis and possible predictive factors. McNemar test was employed to assess the changes in subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis, and regression analyses exploited the ORs for the occurrence of those comorbidities. Results: We analysed 841 participants, mostly female (82.2%) and with median age of 60 years (range 21-90). The remission was achieved and maintained by 41.8% of participants during the follow-up. We observed an increased rate of subclinical atherosclerosis at the end of follow-up (139 vs 203 participants, p < 0.0001), particularly in participants with a disease duration less than 5 years at baseline (70 participants vs 133 participants, p < 0.0001). Type 2 diabetes (T2D) (OR 4.50, 95%CI 1.74-11.62, p = 0.002), high blood pressure (OR 2.03, 95%CI 1.04-4.14, p = 0.042), ACPA (OR 2.36, 95%CI 1.19-4.69, p = 0.014) and mean values of CRP during the follow-up (OR 1.07, 95%CI 1.03-1.14, p = 0.040) were significantly associated with higher risk of subclinical atherosclerosis. We observed an increased rate of clinical atherosclerosis at the end of follow-up (48 vs 76 participants, p < 0.0001). T2D (OR 6.21, 95%CI 2.19-17.71, p = 0.001) was associated with a significant risk of clinical atherosclerosis. The achievement and the maintenance of remission reduced the risk of subclinical (OR 0.25, 95%CI 0.11-0.56, p = 0.001) and clinical atherosclerosis (OR 0.20, 95%CI 0.09-0.95, p = 0.041). Conclusions: We reported an increased prevalence and incidence of both subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis in 3-year prospectively followed participants, mainly in the subset with a duration of disease less than 5 years. The achievement and the maintenance of remission are associated with a reduction of the risk of subclinical and clinical atherosclerosis. Among "traditional" cardiovascular risk factors, participants with T2D showed a higher risk of clinical and subclinical atherosclerosis.
- Immunology and Allergy