Cardiovascular risk factors, fitness and physical activity in rheumatic diseases

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2007 Mar;19(2):190-6. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e3280147107.


Purpose of review: There is increased recognition of an excess risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatic disorders. Physical inactivity is a frequent complication of arthritis, and also common in the general population. In this review, we highlight recent findings on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatic diseases, and explore the role of physical activity for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Recent findings: Inflammatory mechanisms are clearly involved in cardiovascular disease in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, disability is also a major predictor of cardiovascular disease. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population, and high physical activity prevents cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity. Successful treatment of rheumatic disease with control of inflammation and improved functional capacity may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Summary: As part of the effort to prevent vascular comorbidity, regular exercise should be encouraged in patients with rheumatic diseases, and structured interventions to reduce adverse lifestyle factors scientifically evaluated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Fitness
  • Risk Factors


  • Antirheumatic Agents