The heart involvement in systemic autoimmune diseases represents a growing burden for patients and health systems. Cardiac function can be impaired as a consequence of systemic conditions and manifests with threatening clinical pictures or chronic myocardial damage. Direct injuries are mediated by the presence of inflammatory infiltrate which, even though unusual, is one of the most danger manifestations requiring prompt recognition and treatment. On the other hand, a not well-managed inflammatory status leads to accelerated atherosclerosis that precipitates ischemic disease. All cardiac structures may be damaged with different grades of intensity; moreover, lesions can appear simultaneously or more frequently at a short distance from each other leading to the onset of varied clinical pictures. The pathogenesis of heart damages in systemic autoimmune conditions is not yet completely understood for the great part of situations, even if several mechanisms have been investigated. The principal biochemical circuits refer to the damaging role of autoantibodies on cardiac tissues and the precipitation of immune complexes on endocardium. These events are finally responsible of inflammatory infiltration which leads to subsequent worsening of the previous damage. For these reasons, it appears of paramount importance a regular and deepened cardiovascular assessment to prevent a progressive evolution toward heart failure in patient affected by autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: Antiphospholipid syndrome; Arthritis; Atherosclerosis; Autoimmunity; Chronic inflammation; Connective tissue diseases; Immune-mediated injury.