Author(s): Seferovi PM, Risti AD, Maksimovi R, Simeunovi DS, Risti GG,
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Abstract Rhythm and conduction disturbances and sudden cardiac death (SCD) are important manifestations of cardiac involvement in autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs). In patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a major cause of SCD is atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, leading to acute coronary syndrome and ventricular arrhythmias. In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), sinus tachycardia, atrial fibrillation and atrial ectopic beats are the major cardiac arrhythmias. In some cases, sinus tachycardia may be the only manifestation of cardiac involvement. The most frequent cardiac rhythm disturbances in systemic sclerosis (SSc) are premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), often appearing as monomorphic, single PVCs, or rarely as bigeminy, trigeminy or pairs. Transient atrial fibrillation, flutter or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia are also described in 20-30\% of SSc patients. Non-sustained ventricular tachycardia was described in 7-13\%, while SCD is reported in 5-21\% of unselected patients with SSc. The conduction disorders are more frequent in ARD than the cardiac arrhythmias. In RA, infiltration of the atrioventricular (AV) node can cause right bundle branch block in 35\% of patients. AV block is rare in RA, and is usually complete. In SLE small vessel vasculitis, the infiltration of the sinus or AV nodes, or active myocarditis can lead to first-degree AV block in 34-70\% of patients. In contrast to RA, conduction abnormalities may regress when the underlying disease is controlled. In neonatal lupus, 3\% of infants whose mothers are antibody positive develop complete heart block. Conduction disturbances in SSc are due to fibrosis of sinoatrial node, presenting as abnormal ECG, bundle and fascicular blocks and occur in 25-75\% of patients.
This article was published in Rheumatology (Oxford)
and referenced in Rheumatology: Current Research