Background Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have increased risk of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. The development and progression of left ventricular dysfunction before onset of clinical heart failure are unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate longitudinal changes in cardiac structure and function of patients with RA compared with persons in the general population. Methods A prospective longitudinal study of a population-based cohort of 160 patients with RA and a population-based cohort of 1391 persons without RA (non-RA cohort) was performed. Each participant underwent 2-dimensional, pulsed-wave tissue Doppler echocardiography at baseline and after 4 to 5 years of follow-up. Age- and sex-adjusted linear regression models were used to test for differences between the RA and non-RA cohorts in annualized rates of change for echocardiographic parameters. Results Mitral A velocity increased more rapidly among the patients with RA than the non-RA cohort (age- and sex-adjusted parameter estimate, 0.030; P < 0.001). Correspondingly, the mean mitral inflow E/A ratio decreased faster in the RA cohort than the non-RA cohort (adjusted parameter estimate, − 0.096; P < 0.001). The left atrial volume index increased at a higher rate in the RA cohort than the non-RA cohort (adjusted parameter estimate, 0.150; P < 0.001). Conclusions This pattern of echocardiographic findings confirms previous cross-sectional studies and indicates that subclinical changes in diastolic function occur more rapidly over 5 years in RA patients than in the general population. Further research into the mechanisms of myocardial disease in these patients and the relationship with disease activity and treatment is warranted.
- Heart failure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine