Background Chronic inflammation plays a central role in the development of atherosclerosis, being especially relevant in patients with rheumatic diseases. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more prone to suffer cardiovascular events than the general population.
Objectives Our aim was to study the prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with RA and SLE and determine the differences between these conditions.
Methods We evaluated 99 SLE patients and 206 sex- and age-matched RA patients without previous history of cardiovascular events. Subclinical atherosclerosis was defined by the presence of carotid plaque according to Manheim Consensus Conference criteria and/or intima-media thickness ≥0.90 mm. Carotid ultrasonography was performed by a MyLab 70 scanner (Esaote; Genoa, Italy), equipped with 7–12 MHz linear transducer and the automated software guided technique radiofrequency – Quality Intima Media Thickness in real-time (QIMT, Esaote, Maastricht, Holland). After the univariate analysis, multivariate regression models were fitted to adjust for potential confounders.
Results The mean age was 52 ± 13 years in RA and 51±13years in SLE (p=0.77). Demographic data and traditional cardiovascular risk factors are summarized in table 1.
Regarding carotid plaques, there were no statistically significant differences. The frequency of carotid plaques was 40.2% among patients with RA and 44.4% in SLE patients. Bilateral plaques were present in 26% patients with RA and in 21.2% of those with SLE.
An IMT ≥0.90 mm was observed in 9.8% RA patients and in 6.3% of SLE patients (p= NS).
After adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and disease duration, there were no differences in the frequency of carotid plaques (OR SLE vs RA 1.52; CI 0.88–2.62) or in the frequency of IMT ≥0.90 mm (OR 0.75; CI 0.27–2.07).
Conclusions The frequency of subclinical atherosclerosis is similar in patients with SLE and RA after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
Disclosure of Interest None declared