Cardiovascular risk assessment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: The relevance of clinical, genetic and serological markers

Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Nov;15(11):1013-1030. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.07.026. Epub 2016 Aug 1.


Cardiovascular disease (CV) is the most common cause of premature mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is the result of an accelerated atherosclerotic process. Adequate CV risk stratification has special relevance in RA to identify patients at risk of CV disease. However, current CV risk screening and management strategies underestimate the actual CV risk in RA. Consequently, the search for additional tools that may help to identify those patients at high CV risk has become a key objective in the last years. In this regard, non-invasive surrogates, such as carotid ultrasonography, have been found to be excellent predictors of future CV events. In addition, several studies have revealed the relevance of a genetic component in the development of CV disease in RA patients. Besides an association with HLA-DRB1* shared epitope alleles other gene polymorphisms located inside and outside the HLA seem to influence the risk of cardiovascular disease in RA. Moreover, serum levels of some metabolic syndrome-related biomarkers, adipokines such as adiponectin and biomarkers of endothelial cell activation and inflammation such as Osteoprotegerin and Asymmetric dimethylarginine have recently been found useful for the prediction of CV disease in these patients. An update of the current knowledge on these potential markers, especially focused on new genetic and serological biomarkers is shown in this review.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular risk; Carotid ultrasonography; Genetics; Rheumatoid arthritis; Serum biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • Inflammation Mediators