Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory polyarthritis with increased mortality largely attributable
to cardiovascular disease. There is extensive evidence that patients with RA experience accelerated atherosclerosis, which
is considered as the main responsible of this increased cardiovascular burden. Nowadays atherosclerosis is regarded as an
inflammatory condition: hence, the cumulative inflammation of RA, with the abundant synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines,
contributes directly to the early formation of the atheromatic plaque. It is therefore reasonable to postulate that, by
alleviating inflammation, drugs commonly used in RA treatment may ameliorate the cardiovascular profile of these patients.
Here we provide an extensive review of the literature, focusing on the effects of the available anti-rheumatic agents
on cardiovascular mortality, and morbidity among RA sufferers.
Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, inflammation, DMARDs, anti-TNF-α agents, novel
biologic agents, atheromatic plaque, AMI, cytokines
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