Cardiovascular drug treatment, statins and biopsy-confirmed giant cell arteritis: a population-based case-control study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether exposure to cardiovascular medications and statins is associated with increased risk of giant cell arteritis (GCA). DESIGN: The population-based case-control study comprised a cohort of patients with biopsy-confirmed GCA linked to the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register to identify all exposure to drugs prior to diagnosis of GCA. Ten controls per GCA case, matched for age, sex and residential area, were included. Using corresponding Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical codes, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blocking agents, calcium antagonists, diuretics, statins and cardiac therapy drugs were investigated from July 1, 2005 to the diagnosis/index date. A conditional logistic regression model was fitted adjusted for income, education level and marital status. We repeated the analyses including only new drug users excluding those with any prescription during the year from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006. RESULTS: 574 cases (29% men) of diagnosed GCA and 5740 controls (29% men) were included. The mean age at diagnosis is 75 years (SD 8). Of the GCA cases, 71% had at least one dispensation of a cardiovascular drug prior to the index date, compared to 74% of controls. The ORs for the association of target drug exposure with GCA were <1 for most drugs, but close to 1 in the analysis of new users. Statins were consistently associated with lower risk of GCA, OR 0.74 (95% CI 0.61 to 0.90). CONCLUSION: Statins may be associated with lower risk of incident biopsy-confirmed GCA. No association was evident for other studied drugs.


External organisations
  • Helsingborg Hospital
  • University of Cambridge
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity


  • Cardiovascular Diseases, Epidemiology, Giant Cell Arteritis
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001285
JournalRMD Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch