Systemic autoimmune diseases can affect various kinds of organs including the kidney, the skin, soft tissue and the bone. Among others, cardiovascular involvement in rheumatic diseases has been shown to affect myocardium, pericardium, cardiac vessels, conduction system and valves, eventually leading to increased mortality. In general, underlying chronic inflammation leads to premature atherosclerosis, but also other manifestations such as arrhythmia and heart failure may have a 'silent’ progress. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors play a secondary role, while disease-specific factors (i.e. disease duration, severity, antibody positivity, persistent disease activity) can directly influence the cardiovascular system. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to optimize management and to control inflammatory activity and recent data suggest that risk factors (i.e. hypercholesterolemia and hypertension) need intensive treatment as well. With the advent of immunosuppressive agents, most rheumatic diseases are well controlled on treatment, but information related to their cardioprotective efficacy is not well-defined. In this review, we focus on cardiovascular involvement in rheumatic diseases and highlight current evidence which should be of help for the treating physicians. Moreover, cardiotoxicity of immunosuppressive drugs is a rare issue and such potential adverse events will be briefly discussed.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy