Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), one of the most common inflammatory rheumatic diseases. It is defined as a chronic destructive and deforming arthropathy; it also finds its expression through systemic manifestations. RA has an undulating evolution, with remissions and relapses. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease represents one of the most common extra-articular manifestations of RA. It is known that the cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality represent one of the leading causes of reduced life expectancy in RA. Patients with RA develop a premature and accelerated atherosclerosis, explaining the high incidence and prevalence of angina, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and the need for revascularization. Traditional risk factors (arterial hypertension, obesity, smoking, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, male gender, physical inactivity) interplay with RA-related risk factors, generating endothelial dysfunction, arterial stiffness, carotid plaque, and atherosclerosis. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors alone cannot explain the increased incidence of premature and accelerated atherogenesis. Chronic inflammation, hyperhomocysteinemia, and hypercoagulation act as novel cardiovascular risk factors. Rheumatoid inflammation exerts direct effects on vessels, or by means of altered traditional risk factors. Antirheumatic drugs may promote atherogenesis or by reducing systemic inflammation may decrease cardiovascular risk. EULAR recommendations require annual cardiovascular risk assessment.
Part of the book: Rheumatoid Arthritis