Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in comparison to controls with similar cardiovascular risk factors.
Methods: Forty-two consecutive patients with AS and 42 controls matched for age (43.3 ± 11.7 vs. 43.7 ± 11.3, P = 0.89), gender, smoking, diabetes mellitus and arterial hypertension were enrolled. Participants were excluded if a personal cardiovascular disease (CV) history was present. A questionnaire recording demographic data, medical and medication history was fulfilled. Blood pressure, abdominal circumference, height and weight were measured. Lipid profile was determined in a 12-hour fastened blood sample. Ultrasound analysis of the common carotid artery was performed by one blind observer. The distance between the lumen-intima interface and the leading edge of the media-adventitia interface (IMT) was measured and participants were also evaluated for the presence of plaques.
Results: The comparative analysis of demographic and cardiovascular risk factors between AS patients and controls did not reveal statistically significant differences. Also, no significant differences between groups were observed for TC, HDL-C, T-C/HDL-C, LDL-C, triglycerides, or dyslipidemia frequency. IMT measures were not different in AS and controls (0.62 ± 0.09 vs. 0.61 ± 0.09, P = 0.39) as well as plaques frequencies (19% vs. 17%, P = 0.78).
Conclusions: Subclinical atherosclerosis assessed through carotid ultrasound imaging was not more prevalent in the AS group when compared to controls with similar cardiovascular risks. Our observations may imply that CV risk factors may have more influence on the CV system than AS itself. These findings should be confirmed in a larger population with a prospective study design.