Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at high risk for cardiovascular (CV) mortality, attributed to chronic inflammation coupled with elevated circulatory homocysteine levels. Increasing the serum folate level reduces homocysteine, but the association of serum folate concentration with CV mortality in patients with RA has not been previously examined..
A total of 683 patients with RA (mean [SE] age, 55.9 [1.0] years; 225 [30.2%] men; 478 [87.0%] white) were classified into tertiles based on serum folate levels, as follows: tertile 1, folate levels less than 4.3 ng/mL (n = 239); tertile 2, folate levels 4.3 ng/mL to 8.2 ng/mL (n = 234); and tertile 3, folate levels greater than 8.2 ng/mL (n = 210)..
..Compared with tertile 1, patients in tertile 2 had lower all-cause mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR], 0.63; 95% CI, 0.47-0.85). The risk of CV mortality was lower among patients in tertile 2 (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.30-0.92) and tertile 3 (HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.26-0.75) compared with those in tertile 1 (P for trend = .01). Findings for CV mortality were consistent in a sensitivity analysis that estimated 10-year risk; patients in tertile 2 (HR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.17-0.57) and tertile 3 (HR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.22-0.69) had lower CV mortality risk compared with those in tertile 1 (P for trend = .04).
Conclusions and Relevance Among patients with RA, a serum folate level of at least 4.3 ng/mL was associated with lower CV mortality risk. Further research is needed to examine whether a causal relationship exists between serum folate and CV risk among patients with RA.