Article Text


Non-invasive assessment of early cardiac involvement in systemic sclerosis.
  1. G. S. Butrous,
  2. P. M. Dowd,
  3. J. Milne,
  4. D. S. Dymond,
  5. J. Caplin,
  6. A. J. Camm


    Twenty-eight patients with wide spectrum organ involvement of progressive systemic sclerosis but without signs or symptoms suggestive of cardiac involvement were studied by non-invasive cardiac techniques. The 12-lead electrocardiogram showed abnormalities in 6 patients: one had abnormal T waves and 5 had complete or incomplete right bundle branch block. Twenty-four hour ambulatory electrocardiography demonstrated higher average heart rates than in similar aged controls (82 +/- 9 vs 74 +/- 9 beats/min, P less than 0.05). In one patient a short run of ventricular tachycardia was recorded. No other significant arrhythmia was documented. Echocardiographic measurements were within normal ranges but small pericardial effusions were observed in two patients (7%). Resting first pass radionuclide angiography, utilizing 12 mCi of technetium 99m were performed in 23 patients. Seven patients (30%) had abnormal wall motion (diffuse hypokinesia), with a significant decrease in ejection fraction in comparison to those with normal wall motion (44 +/- 6% vs 60 +/- 6% P less than 0.01). Those with abnormal wall motion had suffered the disease longer than those with normal wall motion (13 +/- 4 vs 9.5 +/- 7 y). In conclusion, the heart is involved in half of the patients in this series; non-invasive cardiac assessment is useful in disclosing the early cardiac involvement and may influence long-term management.

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