The Impact of Biologics and Tofacitinib on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Outcomes in Patients with Rheumatic Disease: A Systematic Literature Review

Drug Saf. 2018 May;41(5):473-488. doi: 10.1007/s40264-017-0628-9.


Introduction: Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune, inflammatory diseases often associated with cardiovascular (CV) disease, a major cause of mortality in these patients. In recent years, treatment with biologic and targeted synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), either as monotherapy or in combination with other drugs, have become the standard of treatment. In this systematic literature review, we evaluated the effect of treatment with biologic or tofacitinib on the CV risk and outcomes in these patients.

Methods: A systematic search was performed in MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for articles reporting on CV risk and events in patients with rheumatic disease treated with a biologic agent or tofacitinib. Articles identified were subjected to two levels of screening. Articles that passed the first level based on title and abstract were assessed on full-text evaluation. The quality of randomized clinical trials was assessed by Jadad scoring system and the quality of the other studies and abstracts was assessed using the Downs and Black instrument. The data extracted included study design, baseline patient characteristics, and measurements of CV risk and events.

Results: Of the 5722 articles identified in the initial search, screening yielded 105 unique publications from 90 unique studies (33 clinical trials, 39 prospective cohort studies, and an additional 18 retrospective studies) that reported CV risk outcomes. A risk of bias analysis for each type of report indicated that they were of good or excellent quality. Importantly, despite some limitations in data reported, there were no indications of significant increase in adverse CV events or risk in response to treatment with the agents evaluated.

Conclusions: Treatment with biologic or tofacitinib appears to be well-tolerated with respect to CV outcomes in these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / adverse effects*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Piperidines / adverse effects*
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects*
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Pyrroles / adverse effects*
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Pyrroles
  • tofacitinib