Hypertension as a cardiovascular risk factor in autoimmune rheumatic diseases
| Evidence for the increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic inflammatory and systemic autoimmune diseases has accumulated during the past 15 years. In these patients, an interplay between several mechanisms, including premature acceleration of subclinical atherosclerotic damage, inflammation, and dysregulation of the immune system, is involved in the induction and progression of atherosclerosis. Moreover, traditional cardiovascular risk factors are also likely to contribute, at least in part, to the excess cardiovascular risk. Among traditional cardiovascular risk factors, hypertension is an important predictor of cardiovascular events in the general population and in patients with chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Evidence supports the idea that the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the increased blood pressure in these diseases are multifactorial and not only related to the mechanical injury of the arterial wall. In particular, chronic inflammation and immune-mediated mechanisms have been demonstrated to affect blood-pressure control in patients with systemic autoimmune disease. In this Review, we discuss the available evidence on the relationship between hypertension and autoimmune diseases, and describe the multiple factors that might affect blood-pressure control in patients with chronic inflammatory and systemic autoimmune diseases. We also discuss the effect of hypertension and antirheumatic therapies on cardiovascular outcome.