Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and cardiovascular disease.

Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan University, Lower Galilee 15208, Israel; Vascular Biology Research Laboratory, Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar Ilan University, Lower Galilee 15208, Israel. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suffer cardiovascular events 1.5-2 fold than the general population, and cardiovascular (CV) events are leading cause of death in patients with RA. It is known that patients with RA have endothelial dysfunction, related with impaired function of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). The mechanistic pathways leading to endothelial function are complicated, but understanding these mechanisms may open new frontiers of management and therapies to patients suffering from atherosclerosis. Inflammation is a key factor in atherosclerosis, including endothelial function, plaque stabilization and post infarct remodeling; thus, inhibition of TNF-α may affect the inflammatory burden and plaque vulnerability leading to less cardiovascular events and myocardial infarctions. An aggressive management of inflammation may lead to a significant improvement in the clinical cardiovascular outcome of patients with RA. The clinical evidence that showed a reduced risk of CV events following treatment with anti-inflammatory agents may suggest a new approach to treat atherosclerosis, i.e., inhibition of inflammation using biological medications that were primarily aimed to treat the high scale inflammation of RA and other autoimmune-inflammatory diseases, but may be useful also to prevent progression of atherosclerosis.