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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 157-165

Arterial stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis: Current knowledge and future perspectivess

1 Second Medical Department, Hippokration Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
2 Fourth Department of Internal Medicine, Hippokration Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
3 Department of Rheumatology, Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Dudley; School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Theodoros Dimitroulas
Fourth Department of Internal Medicine, Hippokratio Hospital, 49 Konstantinoupoleos Street, 54642 Thessaloniki
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_254_21

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by the excess cardiovascular risk that remains essentially unaltered despite current medical advances. The introduction of reliable markers towards early identification and subsequently effective management of high-risk patients with RA are urgently needed. Arterial stiffness represents an early indicator of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and has emerged as a surrogate marker of cardiovascular disease. From a pathophysiological perspective, it is significantly accelerated by the accumulation of cardiovascular risk factors and is considered an intermediate process towards the development and progression of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The aim of this review is to critically upraise current knowledge on arterial stiffness in patients with RA. Although not all studies concur, increased Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) has been repeatedly reported in patients with RA. However, results need to be interpreted with caution as most studies enrolled patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors and/or established cardiovascular disease, or with uncontrolled RA with high levels of systemic inflammation. Whether and to which extent increased arterial stiffness among patients with RA is associated with the disease per se, or rather represents the composite effect of hypertension and other classical cardiovascular risk factors, warrants further investigation. The impact of antirheumatic drugs on arterial stiffness is also discussed. Considering the well-established predictive value of increased PWV both in the general population and patients at high cardiovascular risk, future studies need to focus on the clinical utility of this surrogate risk marker specifically in patients with RA.

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