Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic, inflammatory disease with female preponderance, characterized by severe articular and extraarticular manifestations. Cardiovascular (CV) disease in RA usually occurs a decade earlier than age- and sex-matched controls and patients with RA are twice more likely to develop myocardial infarction irrespective of age, history of prior CVD events and traditional CV risk factors. It has been shown that atherosclerotic CV disease in RA shares similarities with CV disease in diabetes mellitus (DM) in terms of clinical presentation and preclinical atherosclerosis. In addition to atherosclerosis, RA also increases risk of non-ischemic heart failure, valvular disease and myopericardial disease. Therefore, RA is considered at least a cardiovascular equivalent to diabetes mellitus.
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR), a non-invasive, nonradiating technique, and due to its capability to perform tissue characterisation, can effectively identify CVdisease acuity and etiology during the course of RA. CMR, by using a combination of function evaluation, oedema-fibrosis detection and stress perfusion-fibrosis imaging can unveil myocarditis, cardiomyopathy, diffuse subendocardial vasculitis, coronary and peripheral artery disease in RA patients, who usually are oligo-asymptomatic. Additionally, CMR is the ideal technique for operator independent, reproducible diagnostic and follow up assessment. However, lack of availability, expertise and high cost still remain serious drawbacks of CMR.