Arthritis Res Ther. 2022 Jun 13;24(1):141. doi: 10.1186/s13075-022-02836-4.
BACKGROUND: Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We aimed to evaluate the effect of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFis) on the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with axSpA.
METHODS: This retrospective study included 450 patients with axSpA without pre-existing cardiovascular disease. The outcome was incident cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction or stroke) after the diagnosis of axSpA. The effect of TNFis on cardiovascular risk was analyzed in the total study population and in an inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW)-adjusted population. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for cardiovascular disease, according to exposure to TNFis.
RESULTS: Of the 450 patients, 233 (51.8%) and 217 (48.2%) patients were and were not exposed to TNFis, respectively. Twenty cardiovascular diseases occurred during 2868 person-years of follow-up (incidence rate: 6.97/1000 person-years). In the total study population, exposure to TNFis was associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk when adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors (HR 0.30, 95% CI 0.10-0.85, p = 0.024). However, when time-averaged erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein were additionally adjusted, this association was attenuated and lost statistical significance (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.12-1.12, p = 0.077). Furthermore, in the IPTW-adjusted population, exposure to TNFis showed no significant reduction in cardiovascular risk (HR 0.60, 95% CI 0.23-1.54, p = 0.287).
CONCLUSIONS: Although controlling inflammation through TNFis could be beneficial in cardiovascular risk reduction, our data indicate no TNFi-specific reduction in cardiovascular risk in patients with axSpA.