Objective: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at an increased risk for heart failure and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (LVDD). B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) may be useful to screen for LVDD in the general population. We compared the effectiveness of BNP as a screening tool for LVDD in RA and non-RA subjects without cardiovascular disease (CVD). Methods: Study subjects were recruited from population-based samples with and without RA, excluding subjects with CVD. LVDD was assessed by 2-dimensional and Doppler echocardiography and categorized as none, mild, moderate/severe, or indeterminate. Linear regression and proportional odds models evaluated the association between LVDD and BNP, adjusting for age, sex, and body mass index. Results: Among 231 RA and 1,730 non-RA subjects without CVD, BNP was significantly higher in subjects with moderate/severe LVDD compared to those with no or mild LVDD (P = 0.02 for RA and P > 0.001 for non-RA subjects). More RA subjects had elevated BNP than non-RA subjects (16% versus 9%; P > 0.001). Positive predictive value (25% in RA and 18% in non-RA subjects) and sensitivity (40% in RA and 26% in non-RA subjects) were similarly low in both cohorts, but specificity was significantly lower in RA than in non-RA subjects (89% versus 94%; P = 0.02). Conclusion: While RA subjects were more likely to have elevated BNP, few RA patients with elevated BNP actually have LVDD. Also, normal BNP levels are less likely to rule out LVDD in RA than in non-RA subjects. Therefore, BNP may be less effective for screening in RA subjects compared to the general population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas