The effect of RA on recurrent stroke is unknown. Therefore, we examined effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on risk of stroke recurrence and investigated the interaction between RA and traditional cardiovascular risk factors on recurrence risk after ischemic stroke (IS) or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Of 3190 patients with IS or TIA recruited in this cohort study, 638 were comorbid with RA and 2552 without RA. Stroke recurrence, RA, lifestyle, lipid variables and other comorbidities were identified through linkage between a nationwide stroke database in Taiwan and the National Health Insurance claims database. Cox proportional hazard models with competing risk adjustment were used to evaluate the relationship between RA and recurrent stroke. Patients with RA showed a significantly increased risk of recurrent stroke, particular in recurrent IS/TIA. The increased risk of recurrent IS/TIA in RA patients may through the changes of triglycerides (TG)/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio. A positive additive interaction was observed between RA and current smoking on the risk of recurrent IS/TIA. Significantly increased risks for recurrent IS/TIA were observed among RA patients who smoked > 40 years or those who smoked > 20 cigarettes/day. This study provides the first evidence that RA significantly increased recurrence IS/TIA risk. The changes of TG/HDL-C ratio may play some roles in the recurrence IS/TIA risk in RA patients. In addition, our results suggest that smoking increases the risk of recurrent IS/TIA in RA patients and reinforces the need for aggressive smoking cessation efforts in RA patients.
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