A special echocardiograms spot heart disease early in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients shows a research by Mayo Clinic. Rheumatoid arthritis patients are at higher risk of suffering cardiovascular disease so it is significant to take essential steps to intercede, but the techniques commonly used by physicians often underrate the risk.
The Mayo study revealed that myocardial strain imaging with the help of a special type of ultrasound known as speckle-tracking echocardiography can detect abnormalities in heart function early distinctive to RA patients. This could be an effective way to screen RA patients for cardiovascular disease. The immune system of arthritis patients attack tissue, inflaming joints and sometimes also affect other joints.
In latest study researchers examined one hundred RA patients with no cardiovascular disease diagnosis and fifty people without heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis equivalent in age and sex. When they were scanned with the speckle-tracking echocardiography, it was found that RA patients had cardiac impairments. The healthy people did not show such impairments.
Senior researcher Sherine Gabriel, M.D, a rheumatologist and epidemiologist, stated the challenge that they have had in studies, is identifying patients with RA early enough so that they can intervene, before the symptoms become clinically apparent. So before patients have a heart attack, or have heart failure, so that they can identify those high-risk patients early, at a time when they can make a difference.
Dr. Gabriel further stated the impairment had a unique pattern that could be used to signify heart disease before patients have clinical signs. It is potentially part of the answer. The research team at Mayo is working to identify better ways to predict heart disease in persons with RA, including developing better risk scores, imaging tests and perhaps better blood tests.
She added they are also evaluating a number of immunological blood tests that could help them to identify patients early, and exploring better imaging approaches like myocardial strain that can help them identify patients with RA who have heart problems as early as possible. The study findings were being presented at The European League against Rheumatism annual meeting in Berlin.