Cardiovascular Imaging in Rheumatology: Implications for Clinical Decision Making

Autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs) such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and systemic sclerosis carry an excess risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality due to conventional cardiovascular risk factors, antirheumatic drug-related cardiotoxicity, disease-related inflammation, and autoimmune dysregulation.1,2 Patients with lupus have demonstrated mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) event hazards double those of age- and sex-matched controls.3 In patients with RA, approximately 50% of premature deaths are related to CVD.4 RA confers a risk of CVD comparable to that seen with type 2 diabetes, a disease classically considered as a coronary heart disease equivalent.