Objectives: Last recommendations regarding cardiovascular risk (CVR) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were developed by the EULAR group in 2010. The aim is to update evidence-based recommendations about this worrying health problem.
Methods: We assembled a multidisciplinary workgroup (rheumatologists, endocrinologist, cardiologist, and epidemiologist) and a panel of 28 expert rheumatologists. The study was carried out in two big phases: identifying key areas in the prevention and management of CVR and developing a set of recommendations based on a review of the available scientific evidence and use of the Delphi consensus technique. All this has been developed according to an updating process of evidence-based recommendations.
Results: Overall, 25 recommendations were made addressing three complementary areas: CVR assessment tools, patient eligibility for assessment, and treatment strategies for control of CVR. The grade of the recommendations was not substantially modified compared to the original EULAR recommendations, except in two of them, which were upgraded from C to B. These two recommendations are the ones related to the use of corticosteroids and smoking cessation. The new developed recommendations address these two areas: CVR assessment and treatment strategies for control of CVR.
Conclusions: There are substantial gaps in the current knowledge that do not allow classifying properly RA patients based on their actual CVR and to accurately identify those patients who would benefit from CVR assessment. Consequently, studies designed to determine the causal effects of RA disease characteristics on cardiovascular morbidity/mortality and to identify patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease are still needed.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Cardiovascular risk factors; Cardiovascular risk management; Guideline; Rheumatoid arthritis; Risk assessment.
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