Risk factors for hypertension in rheumatoid arthritis patients–A systematic review

Brook Hadwen, Saverio Stranges, Lillian Barra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis is frequently associated with hypertension, which has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in these patients. The aim of this systematic review was to explore demographic, behavioural or clinical factors including medication use, associated with incident hypertension in rheumatoid arthritis. Methods: MEDLINE and Scopus were searched for eligible studies that longitudinally investigated incident hypertension or changes in blood pressure (BP) in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Publications were screened by two reviewers according to predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality of included studies was assessed via the Newcastle Ottawa Scale and Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Results: Fourteen studies were deemed eligible and included in this review. The proportion of female subjects ranged from 12 to 87% and the mean age ranged from 47 to 61 years. Regular exercise was associated with a decrease in systolic BP, p = 0.021. Methotrexate was associated with decreased risk of hypertension in two studies. LEF was associated with increased BP in two studies. COX-2 inhibitors were associated with systolic BP and diastolic BP variability (p = 0.009, 0.039, respectively) in one study. Prednisone was found to increase BP and risk of hypertension in three studies. The risk of hypertension in patients taking biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) is unclear as some studies report increased BP while others report no difference for biologic compared to conventional DMARDs. Conclusion: Despite limited longitudinal studies exploring this topic, methotrexate and exercise were shown to protect against risk of hypertension in RA patients, while prednisone and COX-2 inhibitors may increase risk of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102786
Pages (from-to)102786
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Cardiovascular morbidity
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Hypertension
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


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