Objectives: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although only explored in one study, ECG non-specific ST-T abnormalities, in addition to corrected QT-interval (QTc) prolongation, were recently reported in an SLE inception cohort. Importantly, these ECG abnormalities are known predictors of CVD mortality in the general population, yet their prevalence in patients with established SLE has not been evaluated. Methods: We cross-sectionally investigated the presence of non-specific ST-T and QTc abnormalities in 50 patients with SLE, predominantly Hispanic and black, without CVD or SLE-related cardiac involvement and compared them with 139 patients with RA without CVD. Demographics, disease-specific characteristics and CVD risk factors were ascertained and adjusted for. Results: Patients with SLE (mean age 36±13 years, 92% women, 6 years median disease duration, 96% Hispanics and blacks) had a 3.3-fold higher adjusted prevalence of non-specific ST-T abnormalities (56% vs 17%; p <0.0001) compared with RA, despite the older age and higher percentage of men in the RA group. The QTc was 26 ms longer in SLE compared with RA (p=0.002) in the setting of a higher percentage of women, blacks, Hispanics and higher C reactive protein levels in the SLE group. Conclusions: This study demonstrates a high prevalence of ECG abnormalities in predominantly Hispanic and black patients with SLE. Longitudinal evaluation of the progression to potentially lifethreatening arrhythmias and/or cardiovascular events is warranted.
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