Skip to content

IRD CTD – May reduce cardiovascular risk factors

Evidence summary (Added 2022)

A recent systematic review (1) explored how exercise affected vasculature since patients with autoimmune rheumatic disease have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease secondary to accelerated atherosclerosis process.
The review involved 355 adults with a diagnosis of LcSSc, axial SpA, SLE, RA or SAM, who underwent some form of physical activity intervention that lasted at least 2 weeks. Physical activity promoted significant improvements in microvascular [skin blood flow responses to ACh] and macrovascular function [Flow Mediated Dilatation %]. Conversely, there was no evidence for beneficial effects of physical activity on macrovascular structure [Pulse Wave Velocity]. This was suggestive of broadly positive impacts of physical activity on vasculature but further investigation into mechanism and consequences of these findings is essential.

Quality of evidence:
Grade B – Moderate Quality – A single systematic review involving a medium sized sample

Strength of recommendation
Grade 2 – Weak Recommendation

Exercise may give a broadly beneficial effect on vasculature but needs to be replicated in further trials; further investigation into whether this translates into reduced cardiovascular risk is required.


  1. Peçanha T, Bannell DJ, Sieczkowska SM, Goodson N, Roschel H, Sprung VS, Low DA. Effects of physical activity on vascular function in autoimmune rheumatic diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2021 Jul 1;60(7):3107-3120. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keab094. PMID: 33521818.