Echocardiography finds heart disease in arthritis patients

Speckle-tracking echocardiography can spot early abnormalities in heart function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism in Berlin.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic studied 100 RA patients with no known cardiovascular disease and 50 patients without RA or heart disease, matched by age and gender. The myocardial strain imaging method revealed cardiac impairment that the healthy patients didn't have, according to the researchers. The impairment had a unique pattern that could be used to indicate heart disease before patients have clinical signs, senior researcher Dr. Sherine Gabriel said.

The study team utilized records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Rochester Epidemiology Project in their research.

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