The following article is part of conference coverage from the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Rheumatology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in rheumatology. Check back for the latest news from EULAR 2018.

Cardiac screening in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and anti-Ro-positive antibodies does not appear to be beneficial in clinical practice, according to findings presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress held in Amsterdam, June 13 to 16, 2018.

Few studies have analyzed the relationship between autoimmune disorders and electrocardiographic disturbances. Therefore, the investigators conducted a single-center study to determine whether differences exist in cardiac conduction among patients with SLE in the presence of anti-Ro antibodies.

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Patients included in the study were evaluated blindly by a cardiologist who performed a physical examination, interview, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and a 24-hour Holter monitor study. In addition, a rheumatologist conducted a clinical and analytic evaluation, which included immunoblotting of anti-Ro antibodies, along with quantification by chemiluminescence of the anti-Ro52 and Ro60 antibodies. The presence of other SLE-specific antibodies, such as antiphospholipids and antinuclear antibodies, was also analyzed. Findings from the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics were also obtained.

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A total of 145 patients were enrolled in the study. Overall, 91.7% of the participants were women. The average patient age was 45±12 years and average duration of SLE was 11 years. The participants were receiving the following treatments: antimalarial drugs (91%), glucocorticoids (70%), mycophenolate (20%), azathioprine (12%), and biologic therapy (5%).

No significant differences were observed between the groups with positive and negative anti-Ro antibodies, with respect to age, gender, clinical features, or cardiovascular risk factors. No patients had atrioventricular block, and the remainder of the electrocardiographic alterations were not clinically significant and did not predominate in patients with anti-Ro positive antibodies. Moreover, no differences in heart rate, ventricular extrasystoles, echocardiographic findings, or PR, QT, or QRS intervals were reported between the groups.    

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Olivé A, Martinez-Morillo M, Villuendas R, et al. Usefulness of cardiac screening in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and anti-Ro positive antibodies. Presented at: European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2018; June 13-16, 2018; Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Abstract AB0540.