Cardiovascular Risk and Acute Coronary Syndrome in Giant Cell Arteritis: A Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study


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To assess the occurrence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) compared to subjects without GCA.


We retrospectively reviewed a population-based incidence cohort of Olmsted County, Minnesota residents with GCA diagnosed in 1950–2009. We compared this cohort with a cohort of patients without GCA of similar age, sex, and calendar year from the same population.


The study included 245 patients with GCA and 245 non-GCA subjects. The mean ± SD Framingham cardiovascular risk score was 30% ± 19% in GCA patients and 34% ± 23% in non-GCA subjects (P = 0.096) at the incidence/index date. Diabetes mellitus was significantly less common in GCA patients than non-GCA subjects at the index date. The mean high-density lipoprotein was higher and triglycerides were lower, with fewer patients taking lipid-lowering medications in the GCA cohort compared to the non-GCA cohort at the index date. During followup, no difference between the 2 cohorts was noted in the overall rate of ACS events (hazard ratio 0.74, 95% confidence interval 0.44–1.26). Overall thrombosis in myocardial infarction scores were similar in both cohorts. Revascularization procedures were done less frequently in GCA than in non-GCA subjects (19% versus 50%; P = 0.015). Post-ACS hospital length of stays and complications were similar in both cohorts.


Multiple cardiovascular risk factors are less atherogenic at incidence of GCA. There is no overall increased risk of ACS in patients with GCA.