Objective: To estimate the early prevalence of various electrocardiographic (EKG) abnormalities in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to evaluate possible associations between repolarization changes (increased corrected QT [QTc] and QT dispersion [QTd]) and clinical and laboratory variables, including the anti-Ro/SSA level and specificity (52 or 60 kd).
Methods: We studied adult SLE patients from 19 centers participating in the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Registry. Demographics, disease activity (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 [SLEDAI-2K]), disease damage (SLICC/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index [SDI]), and laboratory data from the baseline or first followup visit were assessed. Multivariate logistic and linear regression models were used to asses for any cross-sectional associations between anti-Ro/SSA and EKG repolarization abnormalities.
Results: For the 779 patients included, mean ± SD age was 35.2 ± 13.8 years, 88.4% were women, and mean ± SD disease duration was 10.5 ± 14.5 months. Mean ± SD SLEDAI-2K score was 5.4 ± 5.6 and mean ± SD SDI score was 0.5 ± 1.0. EKG abnormalities were frequent and included nonspecific ST-T changes (30.9%), possible left ventricular hypertrophy (5.4%), and supraventricular arrhythmias (1.3%). A QTc >440 msec was found in 15.3%, while a QTc >460 msec was found in 5.3%. Mean ± SD QTd was 34.2 ± 14.7 msec and QTd >40 msec was frequent (38.1%). Neither the specificity nor the level of anti-Ro/SSA was associated with QTc duration or QTd, although confidence intervals were wide. Total SDI was significantly associated with a QTc interval exceeding 440 msec (odds ratio 1.38 [95% confidence interval 1.06, 1.79]).
Conclusion: A substantial proportion of patients with recent-onset SLE exhibited repolarization abnormalities, although severe abnormalities were rare.
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