Objective: To assess cardiovascular abnormalities in patients with limited systemic sclerosis (SSc), using noninvasive cardiac techniques.
Methods: Sixty-three patients with limited SSc were prospectively evaluated with Doppler echocardiography and thallium-201 perfusion scintigraphy after a cold-stress test and radionuclide ventriculography.
Results: In the patients with limited SSc, there was a significantly high prevalence of abnormal left- and right-diastolic function parameters (P = 0.001 and P = 0.0002, respectively), thickening of papillary muscles (46%; P = 0.003), and mild mitral regurgitation (49%; P < 0.0001), compared with controls. Systolic pulmonary arterial hypertension was detected in 9 patients (14%), and pericardial effusion in 11 patients (18%). In 64% of patients with limited SSc, an ischemic response was detected on the thallium cold-stress scan; similarly, an ischemic response was detected in 57% of patients with primary Raynaud's phenomenon (P < 0.0001 versus controls).
Conclusion: Although the frequency of cardiovascular symptoms was low in patients with limited SSc, a significant rate of cardiovascular abnormalities was found by noninvasive cardiac techniques.