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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 46  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 71-77

Carotid artery atherosclerosis and ECG changes in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: relation to disease activity and severity

1 Rheumatology, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Benha University, Egypt
2 Cardiology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Benha University, Egypt
3 Resident at Benha Teaching Hospital, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Rasha M Fawzy
Rheumatology, Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Benha University
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/err.err_56_18

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Aim This study aimed to detect atherosclerotic changes in the carotid arteries of systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) patients as an indicator of cardiovascular risk factors and to correlate the findings with disease severity and activity parameters as well as to study specific ECG changes in these patients to elucidate possible associations between these variables. Patients and methods This study included 30 SLE patients who met the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) criteria (group I), 30 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients diagnosed according to the American College of Rheumatology/European league against rheumatism (EULAR) 2010 criteria (group II), and 30 apparently healthy volunteers age and sex matched to the SLE patients’ group (group III). All patients were subjected to full history taking, thorough clinical examination, assessment of disease activity using the Systemic Lupus Erythematous Disease Activity Index (2 K) score and assessment of damage by the SLICC/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SDI). Laboratory investigations included: complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, lipid profile, immunological profile (antinuclear antibodies, anti-double-stranded DNA antibody, anticardiolipin antibody, and complements C3 and C4). The right common carotid artery was scanned by ultrasound and the average of carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) was calculated (mean of four readings) for all participants participating in the study. ECG was also done for all participants. Results The mean CIMT was higher in RA patients (0.71±0.194 mm) with a nonsignificant difference compared with SLE patients (0.68±0.197 mm) and a high statistically significant difference (P<0.001) compared with healthy controls (0.34±0.09 mm). There was no statistically significant correlation of the mean CIMT (mm) with SLICC damage index (P=0.09) and disease activity score (P>0.05). Abnormal ECG findings were observed in 3/30 SLE patients (10%), 10/30 RA patients (33.3%), and one/30 healthy control (3.3%), with statistically significant difference (P<0.03) among groups. The presence or absence of abnormal ECG findings showed statistically insignificant differences regarding patients’ disease activity and mean CIMT. Conclusion Although ECG changes were present in 10% of our SLE patients, association of specific ECG changes could not be confirmed. A greater prevalence of increased CIMT was observed in SLE patients, emphasizing the important role of this disease in the development of premature atherosclerosis which did not correlate with disease activity or severity parameters.

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