Lipids and lipid changes with synthetic and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: implications for cardiovascular risk

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To highlight recently published studies addressing lipid changes with disease-modifying antirheumatic drug use and outline implications on cardiovascular outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Recent findings

Growing evidence suggests lower lipid levels are present in patients with active RA vs. general population, and significant modifications of lipid profile with inflammation suppression. Increase in lipid levels in patients with RA on synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may be accompanied by antiatherogenic changes in lipid composition and function. The impact of lipid changes on cardiovascular outcomes in RA is a subject of active research. The role of lipids in cardiovascular risk in RA may be overpowered by the benefits of inflammation suppression with antirheumatic medication use. Recommendations on lipid management in RA are evolving but uncertainty exists regarding frequency of lipid testing and goals of treatment.

Summary

Knowledge about quantitative and qualitative lipid changes in RA is expanding. The relative role of lipids in cardiovascular risk in the context of systemic inflammation and antirheumatic therapy remains uncertain, delaying development of effective strategies for cardiovascular risk management in RA. Studies are underway to address these knowledge gaps and may be expected to inform cardiovascular risk management in RA and the general population.

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