OBJECTIVE There are no patient education programmes addressing the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is the second in a pair of studies exploring stakeholder perceptions of developing such educational material. Healthcare professionals' perceptions were explored in the first study; here, we explore the perceptions of people with RA. METHODS Semi-structured interviews were held individually with 18 people with RA, purposively sampled to include participants with no co-morbid history of CVD, those with CVD risk factors and those who had experienced a CVD event. The interview transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. RESULTS Four superordinate themes were identified: experiences of living with RA; reactions to learning about co-morbid CVD; implementing lifestyle changes; and expectations of education. Participants found being diagnosed with RA a devastating experience and were mostly unaware of their increased risk of CVD co-morbidity. They explained how information about CVD would be overwhelming and irrelevant at diagnosis, but they would have coped with 'extra information a bit further down the line'. CONCLUSION There is a need to develop educational material or programmes. Their design must consider factors which facilitate lifestyle change, such as motivation or receiving personalized advice, and factors that inhibit change, such as depression or fatalism. Emphasizing the positive effects that some CVD lifestyle changes may have on RA symptom control may be particularly persuasive. Group education would be a popular format. These findings can be directly translated into clinical practice.