Objective: The ERAMS study addressed the value of arterial stiffness in predicting the severity of systemic sclerosis.
Methods: ERAMS was a prospective multicentre cohort study including patients with definite systemic sclerosis. Arterial stiffness was measured by the standardized non-invasive QKd 100-60 method. Clinical evaluation, biological measurements, functional respiratory tests and cardiac Doppler echography were performed at inclusion then each year until 3 years' follow-up was completed. Progression was defined as mild (articulations, muscle, oesophagus or skin involvement) or severe (lung, heart or kidney involvement) by a critical event committee. The prediction of severe progression was studied for QKd 100-60 as well as clinical and biological data at baseline by univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: Ninety-nine patients were included (81 women, 18 men, mean age 57 years, standard deviation 12.5). Although their blood pressure profile was normal, half the patients had increased arterial stiffness (QKd 100-60<200 ms). There was a significant relationship between age-adjusted arterial stiffness and decrease in carbon dioxide diffusion (P<0.03) or haemoglobin rate (P<0.01). By univariate analysis, severe progression after 3 years was predicted by age (P=0.04), lung involvement (P=0.04), diffusion of lung carbon oxide (DLCO) (P<0.01), skin score (P=0.02), haemoglobin (P<0.01) and baseline Qkd 100-60 divided into two classes according to the median (P<0.01). By multivariate analysis, only haemoglobin rate [odds ratio (OR) 0.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.2-0.9] and QKd 100-60 (OR 19.6, 95% CI 1.2-308.2) predicted severe progression of systemic sclerosis.
Conclusion: The measurement of arterial stiffness by the QKd method is a useful objective method for assessing the prognosis of systemic sclerosis independently from other data.