A novel ultrasound-based technique to establish a correlation between disease activity and local carotid stiffness parameters in rheumatoid arthritis

Ayşe Nur Şirin Özcan, Abdullah Nabi Aslan, Özlem Ünal, Karabekir Ercan, Orhan Küçükşahin


Aim: Cardiovascular (CV) disease is the reason for most mortality cases in RA and cannot be explained only by the presence of traditional CV risk factors. In this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between local carotid stiffness (CS) parameters measured by a novel ultrasound method and inflammatory disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. 

Material and methods: The study was conducted with 70 RA patients and 35 control subjects. According to their disease activity score (DAS-28), the RA patients were classified into active RA (n = 36; DAS-28 > 3.2) and inactive RA (n = 34; DAS-28 ≤ 3.2) groups. A novel non-invasive echo-tracking system was used to measure carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT), diameter, pulsatile strain, distensibility, and carotid pulse wave velocity (PWV) on 128 sites of the common carotid artery. Erythrocyte
sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were also determined.

Results: Carotid PWV and IMT were significantly higher in the active RA patients (8.20±1.47 m/s and 6.88±1.50 mm, respectively) compared to the inactive group (6.06±1.21 mm and 7.32±1.19 m/s, respectively) and the control subjects (0.68±0.12 mm and 6.41±0.98, respectively). In all RA patients, a statistically significant correlation was found between carotid PWV and age (r=0.435, p<0.001), ESR (r=0.257, p=0.033), and DAS-28 (r=0.314, p=0.009). According to the multivariate logistic regression analysis, age, DAS-28, and ESR were independent predictors of CS.

Conclusion: A strong correlation was found between disease activity and local CS parameters in patients with RA. We also demonstrated that both active and inactive RA patients showed increased PWV values compared with the control subjects. This easily applicable and previously confirmed method can be used in future to assess cardiovascular risk in broad study populations from different risk groups.


Echotracking system; rheumatoid arthritis; disease activity; local carotid stiffness; intima-media thickness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11152/mu-949


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