OBJECTIVE: Cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD) risk is increased in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, longterm followup studies investigating this risk are scarce. METHODS: The CARRÉ (CARdiovascular research and RhEumatoid arthritis) study is a prospective cohort study investigating CVD and its risk factors in 353 patients with longstanding RA. CV endpoints were assessed at baseline and 3, 10, and 15 years after the start of the study and are compared to a reference cohort (n = 2540), including a large number of patients with type 2 diabetes (DM). RESULTS: Ninety-five patients with RA developed a CV event over 2973 person-years, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.20 per 100 person-years. Two hundred fifty-seven CV events were reported in the reference cohort during 18,874 person-years, resulting in an incidence rate of 1.36 per 100 person-years. Age- and sex-adjusted HR for CV events were increased for RA (HR 2.07, 95% CI 1.57-2.72, p < 0.01) and DM (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.02-2.22, p = 0.04) compared to the nondiabetic participants. HR was still increased in RA (HR 1.82, 95% CI 1.32-2.50, p < 0.01) after additional adjustment for CV risk factors. Patients with both RA and DM or insulin resistance had the highest HR for developing CVD (2.21, 95% CI 1.01-4.80, p = 0.046 and 2.67, 95% CI 1.30-5.46, p < 0.01, respectively). CONCLUSION: The incidence rate of CV events in established RA was more than double that of the general population. Patients with RA have an even higher risk of CVD than patients with DM. This risk remained after adjustment for traditional CV risk factors, suggesting that systemic inflammation is an independent contributor to CV risk.