We sought to examine the cardiovascular safety of intensive treat-to-target serum urate strategies for gout using Medicare claims data linked to electronic health record laboratory data.
We selected patients with gout who initiated urate-lowering therapy. We emulated a hypothetical trial comparing the rate of major adverse cardiovascular events (nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, and cardiovascular death) among seven different strategies over 24 months. Three aspects were considered in defining increasingly intensive strategies: (1) continuation of urate-lowering therapy, (2) serum urate monitoring, and (3) modification of urate-lowering therapy when serum urate >6 mg/dl. We applied the “clone-censor-weight” method to account for baseline and time-varying confounding.
We identified 4402 patients with gout who initiated urate-lowering therapy (mean age 77; male 60%). During a total of 6611 person–years (PY) of follow-up under usual care, the rate of major cardiovascular events (first and recurrent) was 4.5/100 PY (95% CI = 4.0, 5.1). The rate ratios (RRs) suggested reductions (RR point estimates 0.88–0.84) compared with usual care. All 95% CIs were imprecise, but their upper bounds excluded substantial increase in RRs. RRs were closer to 1.0 for the analysis focusing on the first major adverse cardiovascular event during follow-up and on comparison to the strategy requiring continuation of urate-lowering therapy (but not necessarily titration).
Our treatment strategy trial emulation did not find increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events with intensive urate-lowering strategies. Results may provide reassurance of the cardiovascular safety of intensive treat-to-target serum urate strategies recommended by rheumatology societies.