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Rheumatology clinic

Cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis

Sean O’Neill

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Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic illness with numerous extra-articular manifestations affecting the heart, vessels, lungs, skin and eyes. In addition to significant disability from pain and joint damage, patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a significantly reduced life expectancy, with cardiovascular disease being a major cause of premature death.

Article Extract

Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1% of the population. It is commonly regarded as a chronic inflammatory condition of the joints, with pain, swelling and erosion its typical manifestations. It is, however, a systemic illness with numerous extra-articular manifestations affecting the heart, vessels, lungs, skin and eyes. In addition to significant disability from pain and joint damage, patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a significantly reduced life expectancy of between 3 and 18 years. Most studies have identified cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the major cause of premature death in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

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