Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Inflammation has a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of CVD. RA is an inflammatory joint disease and, compared with the general population, patients with RA have approximately double the risk of atherosclerotic CVD, stroke, heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Although this high risk of CVD has been known for decades, patients with RA receive poorer primary and secondary CVD preventive care than other high-risk patients, and an unmet need exists for improved CVD preventive measures for patients with RA. This Review summarizes the evidence for atherosclerotic CVD in patients with RA and provides a contemporary analysis of what is known and what needs to be further clarified about recommendations for CVD prevention in patients with RA compared with the general population. The management of traditional CVD risk factors, including blood pressure, lipids, diabetes mellitus and lifestyle-related risk factors, as well as the effects of inflammation and the use of antirheumatic medication on CVD risk and risk management in patients with RA are discussed. The main aim is to provide a roadmap of atherosclerotic CVD risk management and prevention for patients with RA.
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