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Atherogenic lipid profiles and its management in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Authors Michael T Nurmohamed

Published 15 January 2008 Volume 2007:3(6) Pages 845—852

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Michael T Nurmohamed

Departments of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract: Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are enhanced in rheumatoid arthritis, which might be due to an increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors such as dyslipidemia. The dyslipidemia observed in RA appears to be dependent on disease activity, ie, a higher disease activity is associated with lower total cholesterol levels and even more depressed high density lipoprotein levels, leading to a higher (ie, unfavorable) atherogenic index. It appears that this dyslipidemia is already present long before the clinical onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Antirheumatic drug treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs as well TNF-blocking agents has, in general, favorable, albeit moderate, effects on the lipid profi le. Therefore, it is unlikely that the observed beneficial effects of antirheumatic drug treatment on cardiovascular morbidity and cardiovascular mortality in rheumatoid arthritis is mediated through effects on the lipid metabolism. Management of dyslipidemia in rheumatoid arthritis should be part of a general cardiovascular risk management. Hence, in addition to the assessment of the lipid profile, other cardiovascular risk factors should be determined and appropriate treatment installed when indicated. Lower treatment thresholds should be considered in view of the enhanced cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis and guidelines should be developed based on epidemiological data.

Keywords: cholesterol, dyslipidemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease

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