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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2018 May;18(5):585-594. doi: 10.1080/14712598.2018.1462794. Epub 2018 Apr 23.

The effect of biological DMARDs on the risk of congestive heart failure in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review.

Author information

a Amsterdam Rheumatology Immunology Center , Amsterdam , the Netherlands.
b Department of Rheumatology , Jan van Breemen Research Institute/Reade , Amsterdam , the Netherlands.
c Amsterdam Cardiovascular Sciences , VUmc/Reade/AMC/Sanquin , Amsterdam , the Netherlands.
d Department of Physiology , VU University Medical Center , Amsterdam , the Netherlands.
e Department of Rheumatology , VU University Medical Center , Amsterdam , the Netherlands.


A common cardiovascular manifestation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is congestive heart failure (CHF) in which inflammation is considered to play a pivotal role. Although anti-inflammatory therapy such as biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) have the potential of improving the cardiac function and reducing the risk of CHF, the published studies showed contrasting results. This review aims to systematically summarize and analyze literature regarding the effect of bDMARDs on the cardiac function and on the risk of CHF in RA. Areas covered: Observational cohort, randomized controlled trials and case-controlled studies were included. The systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Wiley/Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science and (up to 2017). Two authors assessed abstracts for inclusion and methodological quality was assessed by one reviewer. Expert opinion: RA patients have a clinically relevant increased risk of developing CHF needing further attention. However, we found a lack of high quality studies. Future studies should focus on distinguishing the effect of myocardial inflammation reduction versus antibody-specific myocardial cellular effects of bDMARDs to improve the understanding of the effects of bDMARDs in RA patients and the relation with the development of CHF.


Congestive heart failure; NT-proBNP; bDMARDs; cardiac function; cardiac imaging; incidence/prevalence; inflammation; rheumatoid arthritis

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