ABSTRACT: There is evidence that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a higher arterial stiffness than their age-matched healthy counterparts and thus have a higher cardiovascular risk. Under National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) antagonists are indicated clinically in patients with severe active rheumatoid disease. TNF-α antagonists have been found to reduce inflammatory markers in RA; however, it is debatable if they have favorable effects on the cardiovascular system. This review evaluates the effect of TNF-α antagonists on arterial stiffness, a predictor of cardiovascular disease, in RA patients.
A search of Ovid MEDLINE and ISI Web of Knowledge databases was conducted to identify studies into the effect of TNF-α antagonists on arterial stiffness in RA patients. Eight studies matching the search criteria were included for analysis.
Two methods were used to assess arterial stiffness: pulse wave velocity and augmentation index. Despite inconsistencies in augmentation index values, aortic pulse wave velocity in all but one study was significantly reduced following TNF-α antagonist treatment. Most studies had methodological limitations, including inadequate sample size, nonblinding of those involved in the measurements, and inadequate inclusion/exclusion criteria. Variation in results could be due to the use of different TNF-α antagonists, different outcome measures being used, and differences in follow-up.
The balance of evidence suggests that TNF-α antagonists may have a beneficial effect on arterial stiffness and therefore cardiovascular risk. However, larger more robust longer term studies are warranted to confirm recent findings.
Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism 04/2012; 42(1):1-8. · 4.72 Impact Factor