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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 132-140

Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and carotid intima-media thickness for assessment of subclinical atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis

1 Internal Medicine Department, Rheumatology Unit, Assiut University Hospitals, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut, Egypt
2 Radiology Department, Assiut University Hospitals, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Mona Hussein El Zohri
PhD Lecturer of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, Assiut University Hospitals and School of Medicine Assiut, 71526
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ejim.ejim_37_17

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Objective The aim of this study was to assess subclinical atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients using flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT) and find their relation to disease activity. Patients and methods Totally, 30 RA patients without cardiac involvement and 10 controls were included in the study. Disease activity was evaluated using disease activity score 28 (DAS28) score. Low disease activity is defined by DAS28 of 3.2 or less, moderate disease activity as DAS28 3.3–5.3, and severe disease activity as DAS28 of 5.4 or more. Endothelial dysfunction is considered to be present when FMD on B-mode ultrasonography is below 4.5%. CIMT was calculated by measuring the greatest distance between lumen–intima and media–adventitia interface [mean value of two sides (right and left) was taken] using B-mode ultrasonography. Results The mean CIMT was significantly higher in the RA patients (1.8±0.2) than in healthy controls (1.5±0.1) (P=0.001). Taking the mean±SD of the control group (1.6 mm) as the upper limit of the normal CIMT, 22 (73.3%) RA patients and three (30%) controls had abnormal mean CIMT, which was statistically significant. Brachial FMD% in RA patients was significantly lower (22.9±11.0) as compared with controls (35.5±23.2) (P=0.027). A statistically significant positive correlation was observed between CIMT values of patients with age, C-reactive protein, and low-density lipoprotein. There was a significant negative correlation between CIMT and hemoglobin and brachial FMD. FMD% showed a statistically significant negative correlation with age, disease duration, low-density lipoprotein, Framingham cardiovascular risk score, and mean CIMT. Conclusion Carotid ultrasound and endothelial function assessment by means of FMD may be a useful tool to predict the increased risk for cardiovascular disease in patients with RA, which requires aggressive therapy.

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