REVIEW – June-July 2023

Autoimmunity as a marker for high cardiovascular risk

Authors: Maria Tammik, Raili Müller, Riina Kallikorm

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Autoimmune disease is a marker for increased cardiovascular risk. Some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are known to be associated with higher cardiovascular risks. However, until now the risk of autoimmunity for vascular health per se remains to be little researched. A recent study carried out on over 20 million people in the UK, has shown that the autoimmune background does indeed increase the chance for earlier development of negative cardiovascular event, hospitalization and even death from cardiovascular complications. The mechanism is thought to be mixed: cardiotoxic drugs used for immunosuppression, chronic inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and cytokine- and autoantibody action, to name a few. Screening and early management of heart disease is crucial in the present demographic situation. As regards rheumatologists, cardiologists or family physicians, team work within these fields will ensure better quality of life for our patients.