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17-05-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Review | Article

Cardiovascular system changes in rheumatoid arthritis patients with continued low disease activity

Rheumatology International

Authors: Małgorzata Biskup, Wojciech Biskup, Maria Majdan, Bożena Targońska-Stępniak

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


Systemic inflammation and disease activity seem to contribute to excessive prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) diseases (CVDs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of the study was to assess chosen CV parameters in RA patients who have continuous low disease activity. The study group consisted of 70 RA patients without known CVD and 33 healthy controls, of a comparable age. All RA patients had continued low disease activity (DAS28 ≤ 3.2) from 2 to 7 years. The groups were assessed for: blood pressure, serum amino-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), electrocardiography (ECG), ejection fraction (EJ) and diastolic dysfunction (E/A ratio) in echocardiography. In RA patients in comparison with controls, significantly greater values of cIMT [0.83 (0.21) vs 0.62 (0.1) mm, p < 0.001] were found, as well as higher incidence of atherosclerotic plaques [43 (61.4%) vs 10 (30.3%), p = 0.003], prolonged QTc interval [439.6 (23.7) vs 414.0 (27.9) ms, p < 0.001]. High or very high Systemic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) was found in 32.9% of patients with RA and increased serum NT-proBNP in 71.4%. The mean values of CV parameters (cIMT, E/A, NT-proBNP, SCORE) were associated with age, disease duration, rheumatoid factor (RF-IgM), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The results of our study indicate, that RA with continued low disease activity is associated with atherosclerosis and heart dysfunction. Strong relationships were found between CV parameters and patients’ age, disease duration. Deterioration of CV parameters was associated with higher DAS28, ESR, RF-IgM concentration and bone erosions.

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