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Prevalence of pericardial effusion in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis: an echocardiographic study

  • Autori: Corrao, S.; Sallì, L.; Arnone, S.; Scaglione, R.; Amato, V.; Licata, A.; Cecala, M.; Licata, G.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 1994
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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We used echocardiography to determine the prevalence of pericardial effusion in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without cardiac systems and compared our results to those obtained in a control group of age-matched subjects. Thirty-six patients with RA (6 men, 30 women; mean age 51 +/- 11 years) were selected from a patient population in treatment at our outpatient Rheumatology Clinic. None of the patients had any symptoms of cardiac disease, and all patients with signs and/or systems of extracardiac disease were excluded from the study. The control group consisted of 60 volunteers (mean age 51 +/- 12 years) randomly selected from a larger group of subjects with neither symptoms, signs and/or clinical findings of extracardiac disease nor symptoms of cardiac disease. Standard two-dimensional and M-mode echocardiography was carried out on all subjects. In the RA patients, we found a high prevalence of pericardial involvement, especially minimal pericardial effusion. There was no statistically significant difference among subgroups of RA patients based on stage and duration of disease respectively. There was no correlation between pericardial involvement and inflammatory indexes or drug therapy. The minimal pericardial effusion found in our patients could be caused by the extra-articular inflammatory process and might be one aspect of a more complex picture characterized by silent cardiac involvement. The potential for symptomless pericardial alterations documented in our patients indicates that careful cardiac evaluation should be given high priority in the assessment and management of subjects with RA.