The following question refers to Section 3.4 of the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines. The question is asked by student Dr. Adriana Mares, answered first by Brigham & Women’s medicine intern & Director of CardioNerds Internship Dr. Gurleen Kaur, and then by expert faculty Dr. Michael Wesley Milks.
Dr. Milks is a staff cardiologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where he serves as the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and an associate program director of the cardiovascular fellowship. He specializes in preventive cardiology and is a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Leadership Council.
The CardioNerds Decipher The Guidelines Series for the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines represents a collaboration with the ACC Prevention of CVD Section, the National Lipid Association, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.
Ms. Ruma Toid is a 65-year-old African American woman who presents to your clinic in Ohio for routine follow up. She has a history of rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, obesity, and sleep apnea. Her medications include methotrexate and atenolol. Her blood pressure in the office is 120/80 mmHg, heart rate 68 bpm, and oxygen saturation 99% on room air. Recent lipid testing revealed total cholesterol 165 mg/dL, HDL 42 mg/dL, and LDL 118 mg/dL. She was recently advised to talk to her doctor about taking a statin due to her risk factors but in the past has heard negative things about those medications and would like your advice on next steps. Her calculated ASCVD risk score based on the Pooled Cohort Equation is 7%. Which of the following choices would be the next step?
She is at borderline risk for ASCVD events. A statin is not indicated at this time.
Due to her history of rheumatoid arthritis, her calculated ASCVD risk should be multiplied by 1.5, yielding an ASCVD risk of 10.5% placing her in the intermediate risk category. Moderate intensity statin would be indicated.
When other risk factors are present, rheumatoid arthritis is no longer an enhancing risk factor.
Statins are contraindicated when taking methotrexate.
The correct answer is B. Due to her history of rheumatoid arthritis, her calculated ASCVD risk should be multiplied by 1.5, yielding an ASCVD risk of 10.5% placing her in the intermediate risk category. Moderate intensity statin would be indicated.
Due to her history of rheumatoid arthritis, her calculated ASCVD risk should be multiplied by 1.5, yielding an ASCVD risk of 10.5% placing her in the intermediate risk category. Moderate intensity statin would be indicated. The ESC gives a Class IIa (LOE B) indication to multiply the calculated total CVD risk by a factor of 1.5 in adults with rheumatoid arthritis due to the observed 50% increased CVD risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
This 50% increase in CVD risk attributed to RA is present beyond traditional risk factors, making answer choice C wrong.
Answer A is incorrect because when borderline risk is calculated, one should still look for risk enhancers that could potentially increase ASCVD risk before final determination of statin indication.
Answer choice D is false as there is no contraindication to take both methotrexate and statins together.
Note that it is appropriate to use the pool cohort equations and American risk thresholds for this patient since she is in America where the PCE was validated (versus using SCORE2 risk model which would be more appropriate for European populations).
Inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease increase a person’s risk for ASCVD events. Specifically for rheumatoid arthritis, there is a Class IIa indication to multiply the calculated risk score by 1.5 to account for rheumatoid arthritis as a risk enhancer.