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Cardiovascular co-morbidity in rheumatic diseases

Authors Turesson C, Jacobsson LTH, Matteson EL

Published 6 June 2008 Volume 2008:4(3) Pages 605—614


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Carl Turesson1,2, Lennart TH Jacobsson1, Eric L Matteson2

1Department of Rheumatology, Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden; 2Division of Rheumatology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA

Abstract: Patients with rheumatic disorders have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This excess co-morbidity is not fully explained by traditional risk factors. Disease severity is a major risk factor for CVD in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Shared disease mechanisms in atherosclerosis and rheumatic disorders include immune dysregulation and inflammatory pathways, which are potential targets for therapy. Lessons from RA and SLE may have implications for future research on the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic vascular disease in general. Recent data indicate that suppression of inflammation reduces the risk of CVD morbidity and mortality in patients with severe RA. The modest, but clinically relevant, efficacy of atorvastatin treatment in RA adds to the evidence for important anti-inflammatory properties for statins. There is increased recognition of the need for structured preventive strategies to reduce the risk of CVD in patients with rheumatic disease. Such strategies should be based on insights into the role of inflammation in CVD, as well as optimal management of life style related risk factors. In this review, the research agenda for understanding and preventing CVD co-morbidity in patients with rheumatic disorders is discussed.

Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, cardiovascular disease, inflammation

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