Heart Involvement in Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases: A Systematic Literature Review

Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Jun 6;55(6):249. doi: 10.3390/medicina55060249.


Introduction: Patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular manifestations. The high risk of cardiovascular pathology in these patients is not only due to traditional cardiovascular risk factors (age, gender, family history, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, cholesterol), but also to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. Aim: In this review, we present the mechanisms of cardiovascular comorbidities associated with inflammatory rheumatic diseases, as they have recently been reported by different authors, grouped in electrical abnormalities, valvular, myocardial and pericardial modifications and vascular involvement. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of published literature on the following online databases: EBSCO, ScienceDirect, Scopus and PubMed. Searches were limited to full-text English-language journal articles published between 2010 and 2017 using the following key words: heart, systemic inflammation, autoimmunity, rheumatic diseases and disease activity. After the primary analysis we included 50 scientific articles in this review. Results: The results showed that cardiac manifestations of systemic inflammation can occur frequently with different prevalence in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus(SLE), systemic sclerosis(SSc) and ankylosing spondylitis(AS). Rheumatologic diseases can affect the myocardium, cardiac valves, pericardium, conduction system and arterial vasculature. Conclusions: Early detection, adequate management and therapy of specific cardiac involvement are essential in rheumatic disease. Electrocardiographic and echocardiographic evaluation should be performed as routine investigations in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

Keywords: autoimmunity; disease activity; heart; rheumatic diseases; systemic inflammation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Rheumatic Fever / complications*
  • Rheumatic Fever / physiopathology