Biologics and cardiovascular events in inflammatory arthritis: A prospective national cohort study

Joshua L. Lee, Premarani Sinnathurai, Rachelle Buchbinder, Catherine Hill, Marissa Lassere, Lyn March

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Background: Inflammatory arthritides including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This process may be driven by systemic inflammation, and the use of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors could therefore potentially reduce cardiovascular risk by reducing this inflammatory burden. The aims of this study were to evaluate whether the risk of cardiovascular events (CVEs) in patients with inflammatory arthritis is associated with treatment with anti-TNF therapy, compared with other biologics or non-biologic therapy, and to compare the CVE risk between participants with RA, PsA and AS. Methods: Data from consecutive participants in the Australian Rheumatology Association Database with RA, PsA and AS from September 2001 to January 2015 were included in the study. The Cox proportional hazards model using the counting process with time-varying covariates tested for risk of having CVEs, defined as angina, myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft, percutaneous coronary intervention, other heartdisease, stroke/transient ischaemic attack or death from cardiovascular causes. The model was adjusted for age, sex, diagnosis, methotrexate use, prednisone use, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory use, smoking, alcohol consumption, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes and functional status (Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Score). Results: There were 4140 patients included in the analysis, totalling 19,627 patient-years. After multivariate adjustment, the CVE risk was reduced with anti-TNF use (HR 0.85, 95% CI 0.76-0.95) or other biologic therapies (HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.70-0.95), but not in those who had ceased biologic therapy (HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.83-1.11). After adjustment, no significant difference in CVE risk was observed between participants with RA and PsA (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.77-1.10) or AS (HR 1.14, 95% CI 0.96-1.36). Conclusions: Current biologic use was associated with a reduction in major CVEs. No reduction in CVE risk was seen in those who had ceased biologic therapy. After adjustment, the CVE risk was not significantly different between RA, AS or PsA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2018


  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Biologicals
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

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