[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients is influenced by an increased occurrence of severe cardiovascular complications. Statins have been proven to protect a wide spectrum of SLE patients from these complications. This study was conducted to determine the possible efficacy of atorvastatin in SLE patients as assessed by multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT)-based coronary calcium scoring and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) of the myocardium.
Sixty SLE patients in stable clinical conditions were randomized to receive either atorvastatin (40 mg daily; n = 28) or placebo (n = 32). Clinical and biochemical evaluation together with MDCT-based coronary calcium scoring and SPECT studies (Tc-99 m sestamibi) were performed at the time of randomization and after 1 year of treatment.
At randomization, SPECT revealed perfusion defects at rest in 22 (36.7%) patients and exercise-induced defects in 8 (13.3%), whereas MDCT revealed coronary calcifications in 15 subjects (25%). Coronary calcium deposits increased after 1 year in the placebo group (plaque volume change from 35.2 ± 44.9 to 62.9 ± 72.4, P < 0.05; calcium score from 32.1 ± 39.1 to 59.5 ± 64.4; P < 0.05), but not in the atorvastatin group (plaque volume 54.5 ± 62.4 vs. 51.0 ± 47.6, P not significant; calcium score 44.8 ± 50.6 vs. 54.9 ± 62.5, P not significant). The atorvastatin group showed a decrease in total serum cholesterol (from 5.1 ± 1.2 to 4.4 ± 0.7 mmol/L, P < 0.05), LDL cholesterol (2.9 ± 1.0 to 2.3 ± 0.6 mmol/L, P < 0.05), triglycerides (1.6 ± 0.6 to 1.2 ± 0.5 mmol/L, P < 0.05), and C-reactive protein (CRP) (4.4 ± 4.1 to 2.7 ± 1.7 mg/L, P < 0.05). There was no change in the mean Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) score in patients from both groups. Perfusion defects observed at randomization showed no change after one year treatment with atorvastatin.
In SLE patients 40 mg of atorvastatin daily for 1 year led to a decrease in serum lipids and CRP levels. Additionally the progression of atherosclerosis, as assessed by MDCT-based coronary calcium scoring, is restrained by atorvastatin treatment. The value of statin treatment in patients with SLE free from cardiovascular disease clinical symptoms should be addressed in large, prospective clinical trials.
Arthritis research & therapy 07/2011; 13(4):R117. · 4.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is complicated by pulmonary hypertension and right ventricle (RV) failure in approximately 10% of the patients. Factors influencing the reactivity of pulmonary circulation to vasodilators are not established, while the examination of vasoreactivity is important in determining the treatment, because systemic administration of oral vasodilators can induce severe adverse events in nonresponders. The mechanism of RV failure in SSc is unclear and may result either from increased RV afterload or intrinsic myocardial disease. The aim of the study was to assess the reactivity of pulmonary circulation to inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) and to evaluate its influence on RV function in SSc patients with elevated right ventricle systolic pressure (RVSP). In 60 SSc patients aged 24-73 (58 females, two males; 33 patients with limited SSc and 27 with diffuse SSc), echocardiographic examination with tissue Doppler echocardiography (TDE) was performed. RV function was measured by systolic (S) and early diastolic (E) velocity of tricuspid annulus by TDE. In patients with RVSP >45 mmHg, the reactivity of pulmonary circulation was assessed by iNO test. High-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) was performed to assess the extent of pulmonary fibrosis. Of 14 SSc subjects with elevated RVSP (13 females, one male; RVSP 47-62 mmHg), positive reaction to iNO was observed in five (RVSP decreased from 51.6 ± 3.7 to 32.24 ± 2.3 mmHg); nine patients were not reactive (RVSP 53.5 ± 5.7 mmHg before iNO vs. 49.6 ± 6.7 mmHg). RV systolic function was decreased in patients with elevated RVSP as compared to the patients with normal pulmonary pressure (S velocity 13.2 ± 1.3 vs. 14.4 ± 1.6 cm/s, respectively, p < 0.05). Significant increase of RV systolic function during iNO test was found in reactive patients only (S velocity before iNO 12.8 ± 1.2 cm/s, during iNO 14.5 ± 1.5 cm/s, p < 0.01). RVSP decrease strongly correlated with S velocity increase (r = 0.95, p < 0.0001). Response to iNO was found only in limited form of SSc; diffuse SSc patients showed no response. Pulmonary fibrosis on HRCT was more frequent in subjects nonreactive to iNO (67% of patients) than in the reactive group (40% of patients). The reactivity of pulmonary circulation to iNO in SSc patients with elevated RVSP was found predominantly in limited form of the disease. Pulmonary fibrosis typical for diffuse SSc was more frequent in nonreactive subjects. Elevated pulmonary pressure plays an important role in RV systolic dysfunction. Pulmonary pressure decrease during iNO test leads to the improvement of RV systolic function. Therapy for right-heart failure in reactive SSc patients should be directed, if possible, at the decrease in pulmonary resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conventional risk factors of coronary artery disease fail to explain the increased frequency of cardiovascular morbidity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The study was conducted to determine possible association between the heart structure and function abnormalities with established prognostic value assessed by non-invasive imaging techniques and markers of autoimmune and inflammatory phenomena typical for SLE. Echocardiography and single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT; Tc-99m-MIBI) at rest were performed in 60 SLE patients in a stable clinical condition of their disease. Laboratory evaluation included serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), complement C3c and C4 components and antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). The latter included serum anticardiolipin (aCL) and anti-β2-glycoprotein I (antiβ2GPI) antibodies, both of IgG and IgM class, and lupus anticoagulant (LA) in plasma. Echocardiography revealed pathologic thickening of valvular leaflets and/or pericardium in more than 60% of patients. Right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) was elevated (>30 mmHg) in 16.7%. Myocardial perfusion defects were present in 36.7% of patients, despite normal ECG recordings and a lack of clinical symptoms of myocardial ischaemia. There was a significant association between thickening of valvular leaflets and/or pericardium and high CRP and low C3c and C4 concentrations. On the other hand, increased RVSP and the presence of myocardial perfusion defects were associated with the presence of anticardiolipin and antiβ2GPI antibodies of the IgG class. Increased anticardiolipin IgG levels predicted perfusion defects in SPECT study with 100% sensitivity and 68% specificity, whereas elevated antiβ2GPI IgG levels predicted RVSP elevation (>30 mmHg) with 100% sensitivity and 78% specificity. In stable SLE patients pericardial and valve abnormalities may be associated with markers of an ongoing inflammation. Also, pulmonary systolic pressure elevation and myocardial perfusion defects are combined with elevated levels of anticardiolipin and antiβ2GPI antibodies of the IgG class. These results indicate that even clinically silent pulmonary hypertension and myocardial perfusion defects in SLE patients could be causally related to the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diastolic heart dysfunction, responsible for dyspnoea in heart failure patients, is an important prognostic factor. Patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) serve as a model of diastolic heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
To quantify diastolic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction and elevation of pulmonary capillary wedge pressures (PCWP) in SSc patients and to assess the effects of these parameters on exercise tolerance.
In 46 SSc patients (43 females, three males, aged 24-73 years) and 30 healthy females, echocardiography with tissue Doppler (TDE) and cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPX) were performed. During TDE, the systolic (S) and early diastolic (E) velocities of mitral annulus were recorded. The PCWP was calculated on the basis of mitral inflow E velocity and E velocity of mitral annulus. The CPX was performed using a modified Bruce protocol.
Left ventricular ejection fraction was normal in the SSc group. Mitral inflow E/A ratio was pseudonormal in five SSc patients, and significantly decreased in the remainder as compared to controls (0.87 ± 0.2 vs 1.38 ± 0.5, p < 0.0002). The TDE examination confirmed normal systolic LV function, but severe LV diastolic dysfunction (E 8.66 ± 2.5 cm/s vs 12.39 ± 3.5 cm/s in controls, p < 0.000002). The PCWP was higher in the SSc group (11.8 ± 3.3 mm Hg vs 7.7 ± 1.7 mm Hg in controls, p < 0.0001). The PCWP > 10 mm Hg significantly decreased exercise duration, maximal oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output and identified patients with oxygen uptake < 20 mL/kg/min with 100% sensitivity and 78% specificity. The ventilatory equivalent of carbon dioxide was increased in the SSc group (VE/VCO2 38.7 ± 7.5 vs 30.55 ± 4.2 in controls, p < 0.002).
Pure LV diastolic dysfunction, typical of SSc, leads to the elevation of PCWP. Values of PCWP > 10 mm Hg are associated with severe exercise intolerance demonstrated by shorter duration of exercise with decreased oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output during exercise.
Kardiologia polska 01/2011; 69(3):243-9. · 0.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Severe cardiovascular complications are among the most important causes of mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.
To assess the usefulness of echocardiography, ECG, and coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS) in the detection of myocardial ischaemia in SLE patients compared to single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) and to assess their five-year follow-up.
In 50 consecutive SLE patients (mean age 39.2 ± 12.9 years, 90% female), clinical assessment, resting and exercise ECG and echocardiography, multidetector computed tomography - based CACS and SPECT studies (Tc-99m sestamibi) were performed. Patients were then followed for five years.
SPECT revealed perfusion defects in 25 (50%) patients; persistent defects in 18 (36%) and exercise-induced defects in seven (14%) subjects. No typical ischaemic heart disease clinical symptoms, signs of ischaemia in resting ECG, or left ventricular contractility impairment in echocardiography were observed. Signs of ischaemia in exercise ECG were found in 17 (34%) patients. The CACS ranged from 1 to 843.2 (median 23.15), and coronary calcifications were observed in 12 (24%) patients. Compared to the SPECT study, exercise ECG had 68% sensitivity and 100% specificity in detecting myocardial ischaemia, while CACS had only 28% sensitivity and 58% specificity. During follow-up, one patient who showed myocardial perfusion defects and the highest calcium score (843.2) at baseline, developed CCS II class symptoms of myocardial ischaemia. Coronary angiography was not performed because of severe anaemia; the patient died three months later. In two other patients with perfusion defects and calcium deposits at baseline, CCS I class symptoms were observed; coronary angiography showed only thin calcified coronary plaques that were haemodynamically insignificant.
In about half of relatively young, mostly female, SLE patients, SPECT shows myocardial perfusion defects, with coronary calcifications present in one quarter of them. While ECG and echocardiography may not reveal any pathology, ECG exercise test can identify these patients with high specificity. In patients with a negative SPECT, the short-term prognosis is good, while in patients with perfusion defects and coronary calcifications, the clinical symptoms of myocardial ischaemia could occurr. However, at a low calcium score ( < 150), the short-term risk of significant atherosclerosis progression is low.
Kardiologia polska 01/2011; 69(11):1129-36. · 0.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autoantibodies directed against nuclear protein Ku are infrequently detected. If present, they are found in high titers in patients with connective tissue overlap syndromes. This article describes 5 patients with anti-Ku antibodies in whom systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, idiopathic lung fibrosis or scleroderma - polymyositis overlap syndrome were diagnosed. Interestingly, signs and symptoms of transient cranial neuropathy involving trigeminal and facial nerves were reported by 3 patients. Cranial nerve neuropathy has not been described in patients with anti-Ku autoantibodies previously.
Polskie archiwum medycyny wewnȩtrznej 01/2009; 119(1-2):95-7. · 1.83 Impact Factor