Coronary artery disease and rheumatoid arthritis

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2002 Mar;14(2):115-20. doi: 10.1097/00002281-200203000-00007.


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a reduced life expectancy when compared with the general population. Cardiovascular death is considered the leading cause of mortality in patients with RA; it is responsible for approximately half the deaths observed in RA cohorts. The prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidity is difficult to assess accurately, because cardiovascular disease (CVD) has a tendency to remain silent in the rheumatoid patient. It is not clear why rheumatoid patients have higher rates of coronary disease. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors do not seem to be wholly responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk. Novel cardiovascular risk factors, including inflammatory markers, have been identified over the past few years. It may be that these new cardiovascular risk factors are responsible for accelerating coronary heart disease in patients with RA. This article reviews recent literature relating to the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in the context of RA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / mortality*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality*
  • Fibrinogen / analysis
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias
  • Hypertension
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate


  • Homocysteine
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein