Objective: To study the difference in incidence and risk of fragility fractures between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients followed up early in the disease and the general population in Sweden; and the fracture risk changes in RA patients diagnosed in the 1990s and 2000s because of earlier, more potent pharmacological treatment in the later period. Method: Patients with early RA were recruited from the BARFOT cohort, a Swedish multicentre observational study of early RA patients (n = 2557). All patients fulfilled 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria and were included between 1992 and 2006. Each patient was matched by gender, age, and residential area with four controls from the general population (n = 10 228). Fractures of forearm, upper arm, and hip were identified by ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes through Swedish national medical registries. Results: During follow-up of 12.9 ± 4.7 years (mean ± sd), 14% (n = 470) of RA patients and 11% (n = 1418) of controls experienced a fracture (p < 0.001). When dividing the patients and controls into two groups according to inclusion period, an 8 year follow-up time was used. RA patients included in the 1990s had a higher incidence rate (IR) of hip and other fractures. RA patients included in the 2000s had a higher IR of all fracture sites. The hazard ratio of fractures was 1.4 in the total RA cohort, and the risk was increased in both the 1990s and 2000s. Conclusion: We observed an increased risk of fragility fractures in RA patients diagnosed in both the 1990s and 2000s, despite patients in the 2000s obtaining potent pharmacological treatment early in the disease.
- osteoporotic fractures
- rheumatoid arthritis
- potent disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs