Objective: Using digitized M-mode and Doppler echocardiography, we evaluated left ventricular (LV) function in 54 patients (43 women and 11 men; mean age 50 years) suffering from active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) without obvious cardiovascular disease, and compared them with 54 age- and sex-matched normal subjects.
Results: No differences were found in LV end-diastolic diameter, systolic function and parietal thickness between the patients and controls. However, a significant reduction in various indexes of LV diastolic function was found, including E/A (ratio of early to late filling waves of mitral inflow Doppler) and the peak lengthening rate of the LV diameter (an index of LV relaxation evaluated by M-mode echocardiography). The former was correlated with patient age and was independent of disease duration, while the latter was more markedly correlated with disease duration than with patient age.
Conclusion: The relationship between diastolic impairment and disease duration in active RA may open new perspectives in the study of RA-associated cardiovascular disease.