Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease associated with increased cardiovascular risk and higher mortality in respect to general population. Beyond joint disease, inflammation is the major determinant of accelerated atherosclerosis observed in rheumatoid arthritis. We review the relationship between inflammation, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis, focusing on the assessment of subclinical atherosclerosis by functional and morphological methods. These tools include flow mediated dilatation, carotid intima-media thickness, ankle/brachial index, coronary calcium content, pulse wave analysis and serum biomarker of subclinical atherosclerosis.
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