Rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2008 Apr;10(2):128-33
Authors: Dhawan SS, Quyyumi AA

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease affecting approximately 1% of the adult general population. Cardiovascular disease is recognized as the leading cause of death in RA patients, accounting for nearly 40% of their mortality. Patients with RA are at a twofold increased risk for myocardial infarction and stroke, with risk increasing to nearly threefold in patients who have had the disease for 10 years or more. Congestive heart failure appears to be a greater contributor to excess mortality than ischemia. This increased cardiovascular disease risk in RA patients seems to be independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Pathogenic mechanisms include pro-oxidative dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, prothrombotic state, hyperhomocysteinemia, and immune mechanisms such as T-cell activation that subsequently lead to endothelial dysfunction, a decrease in endothelial progenitor cells, and arterial stiffness, which are the congeners of accelerated atherosclerosis observed in RA patients. This paper discusses pathogenic mechanisms, effects of methotrexate, tumor necrosis factor antagonists, steroids, and statins, with a perspective on therapy.

PMID: 18417067 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]