The cardiovascular manifestations of rheumatic diseases

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Purpose of review

To review the cardiovascular manifestations of several more common rheumatic conditions in the light of the recent reported literature.

Recent findings

Evidence that chronic inflammation is associated with the occurrence of cardiac events in people both with and without chronic inflammatory joint disease is emerging. Both atherosclerosis and rheumatic diseases, however, have a complicated cause, and it is likely that inflammation contributes to other environmental and host risk factors in these patients. Treatments used to suppress inflammation in many rheumatic conditions have the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease morbidity as well as improve musculoskeletal function.


Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality have been found to be increased in association with many of the rheumatic diseases. In particular, coronary heart disease seems to be associated with inflammatory rheumatic conditions. Whilst it is likely that chronic systemic inflammation promotes accelerated atherosclerosis in these patients, the mechanisms by which this occurs are complex and the effects of treatment and other cardiovascular risk factors need to be considered.

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