Managing cardiovascular risk in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases

Clin Rheumatol. 2012 Apr;31(4):585-94. doi: 10.1007/s10067-011-1921-0. Epub 2012 Jan 14.


The role of traditional risk factors in the development of cardiovascular disease has been well studied. However, the relationship between chronic inflammatory conditions and cardiovascular risk has only recently been appreciated. Expression of numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines is common to the pathogenesis of both atherosclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases and may suggest that systemic inflammation independently contributes to elevated risk. This article examines the magnitude of cardiovascular risk in several of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases and summarizes currently available data to discern whether this risk is largely due to the presence of co-existing traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease or the effect of increased systemic inflammation. Evidence is summarized to show which therapies may positively or negatively impact cardiovascular risk. Evidence is discussed in context of practical patient management tools, appropriate treatment based on risk, and treatment targets for high-risk patients. Overall, patients with chronic inflammatory diseases are at an often underestimated increase in cardiovascular risk and require individualized therapy and specific patient management strategies to address the disease process, cardiovascular risk factors, and comorbidities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Psoriasis / complications*
  • Risk Factors