Subclinical myocardial impairment in SLE: insights from novel ultrasound techniques and clinical determinants.

Gabriel Guşetu, Dana Pop, Cristina Pamfil, Raluca Bǎlaj, Lucian Mureşan, Gabriel Cismaru, Roxana Matuz, Radu Roşu, Dumitru Zdrenghea, Simona Rednic


Aims: Myocardial damage is frequent and often silent in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of myocardial damage by novel ultrasound techniques and to systematically assess the relationship between subclinical cardiac dysfunction and SLE-related clinical parameters. Material and methods: Seventy-five consecutive SLE patients without evidence of cardiac disease and seventy-three controls underwent standard transthoracic echocardiography using classical and novel ultrasound techniques: tissue Doppler imaging and speckle tracking echocardiography. Patient characteristics, cumulative organ damage and laboratory data were retrieved by medical chart review. Results: Within the cohort, 89.3% of the patients were female; mean±SD age and median (IQR) disease duration were 43.2±12.5 years and 8.03(6.3) years, respectively. SLE patients exhibited a significant decrement in endocardial longitudinal strain (-18.4% vs 19.3%, p=0.001)  compared  with controls. Diastolic dysfunction was detected in 34 (45.3%) of SLE patients. Major determinants of systolic and diastolic dysfunction were hypertension (p=0.023 and p<0.001, respectively), associated antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) (p<0.001 and p<0.001, respectively), cumulative damage accrual (p<0.001 and p=0.003, respectively), and disease duration (p=0.03 and p<0.001, respectively). Notably, anti-Ro antibodies were present in 37% of the SLE patients who  had better systolic longitudinal performance. Neither disease activity, nor specific organ involvement, were associated with myocardial impairment. Conclusion: Systolic longitudinal and diastolic performance impairments are frequent findings in SLE patients without overt cardiovascular disease. Cumulative organ damage, disease duration, APS, and hypertension are major determinants for early heart involvement in SLE patients.


systemic lupus erythematosus; systolic dysfunction; diastolic dysfunction; tissue Doppler; speckle tracking echocardiography

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