OBJECTIVE: To determine cardiac manifestations in primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS). METHODS: Echocardiographic examination was undertaken in 64 patients (62 women, two men) with primary SS (54 definite (DSS) and 10 probable (PSS)) who had systemic symptoms. Twenty one healthy women volunteers of similar age acted as controls. RESULTS: Acute exudative pericarditis occurred in only one patient. An echogenic pericardium was demonstrated in 21 patients (19 DSS, two PSS) (33%) who had a previous symptom free pericarditis, but in none of the controls. Pulmonary pressure was significantly greater in the patients than in the controls (31 (SD 8) mm Hg compared with 24 (7) mm Hg), but there was no significant difference between the DSS and PSS groups. Left ventricular (LV) systolic function was similar in patients and controls. Twenty two patients (20 DSS, two PSS) and one control subject were excluded from LV diastolic function evaluation because of conditions likely to influence the parameters. Of the remaining 42 patients with SS (34 DSS, eight PSS), 21 (17 DSS, four PSS) had impaired diastolic function, confirmed by several diastolic parameters. LV diastolic dysfunction and echogenic pericardium occurred independently of each other, and there was no correlation between the occurrence of these silent cardiac abnormalities and the clinical and laboratory findings. CONCLUSIONS: Obvious cardiac involvement is rare in primary SS, but clinically silent manifestations (symptom free pericarditis and LV diastolic dysfunction) are common. The clinical and prognostic significance of these changes cannot yet be defined.
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