Cardiovascular disease in inflammatory rheumatic diseases

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2016 Oct;30(5):851-869. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2016.10.006. Epub 2016 Nov 9.


Chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases (IRD), including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis, are prevalent conditions worldwide, with a considerable burden on healthcare systems. They are associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality. In this review, we focused on the epidemiology, traditional CV risk factors, genetics, and the link between chronic inflammation, atherosclerosis, and CV disease. Remarkably, patients with IRD have higher vulnerability to atheromatous plaques. The risk of unstable plaques is higher in patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in controls. Active disease is a characteristic ascribed to vulnerability and rupture of plaques and a cause of thrombosis in IRD. Management of CV risk in patients with IRD includes optimal control of disease activity. CV risk stratification by applying risk charts is also essential. Imaging techniques might be useful to determine the actual CV risk of patients with IRD who are included in the category of intermediate or moderate CV risk.

Keywords: Ankylosing spondylitis; Cardiovascular disease; Cardiovascular risk assessment; Cardiovascular risk factors; Psoriatic arthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Spondyloarthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Rheumatic Diseases / complications*