In chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic inflammation appears as an independent risk factor, contributing to increased cardiovascular mortality. This high cardiovascular mortality reveals the existence of accelerated atherosclerosis, the pathogenesis of which may be associated with traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia, deterioration of insulin sensitivity, and less traditional risk factors such as hyperhomocysteinemia, inflammatory conditions and endothelial dysfunction. Control of systemic inflammation theoretically provides a means of preventing this higher cardiovascular mortality among RA patients. In this review we address the question of the impact of anti-rheumatic drugs currently used in RA, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. non-selective or cyclooxygenase-2 selective inhibitors), steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (glucocorticoids), traditional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (e.g. methotrexate) or biologics (e.g. anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha) on cardiovascular diseases in RA patients. We also discuss the specific mechanisms involved in the differential cardiovascular effects of these therapeutic agents.
Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, glucocorticoids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, biologics
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