Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading causes of death in chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases and are not solely explained by the increased prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in this population. Arterial stiffness, assessed primarily by pulse wave velocity (PWV) and more indirectly by augmentation index (AIx), is a surrogate marker of CVD that should be considered. The objective of this review was to investigate the relationship between arterial stiffness and chronic inflammatory and/or autoimmune diseases.
We performed a systemic literature review of articles published in Medline from January 2012 to April 2020 restricted to English languages and to human adults. We selected relevant articles about the relationship between arterial stiffness and rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, Sjogren’s syndrome and ankylosing spondylitis. For each selected article, data on PWV and AIx were extracted and factors that may have an impact on arterial stiffness were identified.
A total of 214 references were identified through database searching and 82 of them were retained for analysis. Arterial stiffness is increased in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Traditional CV risk factors such as hypertension and dyslipidemia accentuate this relationship. Current data are insufficient to determine whether disease activity significantly influences arterial stiffness, whereas disease duration seems rather critical. TNF-alpha inhibitors and cardiorespiratory fitness tend to decrease arterial stiffness. Finally, increased arterial stiffness leads to diastolic dysfunction, which is the main mechanism of heart failure in chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
CV risk assessment in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases should also rely on PWV and AIx.

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