Use of a comprehensive cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) protocol may benefit patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) without known coronary artery disease through early detection of heart disease, according to results from a study published in PLOS One.

Researchers conducted a prospective, cross-sectional study, which included 30 patients with SLE without known coronary artery disease who completed a specific CMR protocol. The protocol consisted of an electrocardiogram and blood samples, as well as cine, late gadolinium enhancement, and stress perfusion imaging sequences. Of the study patients, 83% were women, with a mean age of 45±14 years, and 80% of participants had low to moderate disease activity.

After analysis, comprehensive CMR results were irregular in 13 of 30 (43%) of study participants. Imaging results revealed late gadolinium enhancement in 9 of 13 patients, stress perfusion insufficiencies in 5 of 13, and pericardial effusion in 7 of 13. The investigators found no correlation between clinical symptoms and imaging results.

Primary study limitations included the small sample size and observational design.

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“Our study shows that cardiac involvement as observed by CMR is frequent in SLE and not necessarily associated with typical symptoms. CMR may thus help to detect subclinical cardiac involvement, which could lead to earlier treatment,” the researchers wrote.

Further studies are needed to fully establish how cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging can help detect cardiac manifestations in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Reference

Burkard T, Trendelenburg M, Daikeler T, et al. The heart in systemic lupus erythematosus – A comprehensive approach by cardiovascular magnetic resonance tomography. PloS One. 2018;13(10):e0202105.