HealthDay News — Among patients meeting guideline-based criteria for hypertension, those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are less likely to receive a diagnosis of hypertension, according to researchers.

“Despite numerous studies reporting increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with RA, the impact of RA on managing modifiable CVD risk factors remains understudied,” noted Christie M. Bartels, MD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues in Arthritis Care & Research.

To determine if RA may be a risk factor for not receiving a hypertension diagnosis, the investigators conducted a cohort study with data obtained from adult patients with and without RA or inflammatory arthritis from an academic multispecialty practice (n =14,974). All participants were seen regularly in primary care and met the clinical guideline criteria for hypertension, but had not been diagnosed with or received treatment for hypertension.

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Of the patients, 201 had RA codes. Compared with patients without RA, those with RA had equivalent primary-visits and more total visits. The likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of hypertension was 36% in RA patients and 51% in patients without RA.

The risk of hypertension diagnosis significantly lower for patients with RA in adjusted Cox models (hazard ratio, 0.71), with more undiagnosed hypertension seen than with other comorbidities.

“Given heightened cardiovascular risks in RA and the importance of hypertension diagnosis as a first step toward controlling risk, rheumatologists should collaborate to improve rates of diagnosis for this modifiable cardiovascular risk factor,” wrote the authors.


  1. Bartels CM et al. Arthritis Care & Research. 2014; doi: 10.1002/acr.22302