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Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2010 Mar;6(3):157-64. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2009.277. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

Targeting cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis: a dual role for statins.

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Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a prototypical immune-mediated inflammatory disease that is characterized by increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, independent of the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The chronic inflammatory state--a hallmark of RA--is considered to be a driving force for accelerated atherogenesis. Consequently, aggressive control of RA disease activity is thought to be instrumental for cardiovascular risk reduction. Currently, statin-mediated reduction of LDL-cholesterol levels is considered to be the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease prevention. In addition to their lipid-lowering capabilities, statins exert immunomodulatory effects, which could be of dual benefit in the treatment of RA. Guidelines on the reduction of cardiovascular risk in patients with RA are lacking, however, largely owing to the absence of data from randomized controlled trials. This Review focuses on the pathophysiology of cardiovascular events in RA, as well as the need to adjust cardiovascular risk engines to better-accommodate the impact of chronic inflammatory disease over and above the established risk factors to predict cardiovascular risk in patients with RA.

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