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Cardiovascular Risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Mechanistic Links: From Pathophysiology to Treatment

[ Vol. 18 , Issue. 5 ]


George E. Fragoulis*, Ismini Panayotidis and Elena Nikiphorou   Pages 431 - 446 ( 16 )


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. Inflammation, however, can spread beyond the joints to involve other organs. During the past few years, it has been well recognized that RA associates with increased risk for cardiovascular (CV) disease (CVD) compared with the general population. This seems to be due not only to the increased occurrence in RA of classical CVD risk factors and comorbidities like smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and others but also to the inflammatory burden that RA itself carries. This is not unexpected given the strong links between inflammation and atherosclerosis and CVD. It has been shown that inflammatory cytokines which are present in abundance in RA play a significant role in every step of plaque formation and rupture. Most of the therapeutic regimes used in RA treatment seem to offer significant benefits to that end. However, more studies are needed to clarify the effect of these drugs on various parameters, including the lipid profile. Of note, although pharmacological intervention significantly helps reduce the inflammatory burden and therefore the CVD risk, control of the so-called classical risk factors is equally important. Herein, we review the current evidence for the underlying pathogenic mechanisms linking inflammation with CVD in the context of RA and reflect on the possible impact of treatments used in RA.


Rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome.


Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Medical School, University College London, London, Department of Inflammation Biology, King’s College London, London, UK and Department of Rheumatology, King’s College Hospital, London

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