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Impact of Traditional Therapies and Biologics on Cardiovascular Diseases in Rheumatoid Arthritis

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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.

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Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis; biologics; cardiovascular diseases; disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs; glucocorticoids; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2008

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  • Vascular disease is the commonest cause of death in Westernized countries and its incidence is on the increase in developing countries. It follows that considerable research is directed at establishing effective treatment for acute vascular events. Long-term treatment has also received considerable attention (e.g. for symptomatic relief). Furthermore, effective prevention, whether primary or secondary, is backed by the findings of several landmark trials.

    Vascular disease is a complex field with primary care physicians and nurse practitioners as well as several specialties involved. The latter include cardiology, vascular and cardio thoracic surgery, general medicine, radiology, clinical pharmacology and neurology (stroke units). Current Vascular Pharmacology will publish reviews to update all those concerned with the treatment of vascular disease. For example, reviews commenting on recently published trials or new drugs will be included. In addition to clinically relevant topics we will consider 'research-based' reviews dealing with future developments and potential drug targets. Therefore, another function of Current Vascular Pharmacology is to bridge the gap between clinical practice and ongoing research.

    Debates will also be encouraged in the correspondence section of this journal.
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