Rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis

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Evidence continue to accumulate indicating that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) present an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (and death). The risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) in RA are not fully understood. However, a number of possible factors have been described, but more than one may be efficient, such as homocysteine, presence of antiphospholipid antibodies, altered serum levels of selected lipoproteins, and all together may have implications for the atherogenesis observed in these patients. Other factors that may facilitate this process, include corticosteroid use, methotrexate therapy and hormonal factors. However, the relative importance of these specific risk factors for the atherogenesis in this diseases is poorly known. Recent findings indicate that cardiac death is increased in RA patients when compared with subjects without arthritis and that generally, the inflammatory process may contribute to atherosclerosis. In addition, other studies indicate that serum concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines are found elevated at baseline, among patients at risk for future coronary occlusion.

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Seriolo, B., Sulli, A., Burroni, B., & Cutolo, M. (2003). Rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis. Reumatismo, 55(3), 140–146. https://doi.org/10.4081/reumatismo.2003.140