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Scand J Rheumatol. 2000;29(4):236-42.

Pulmonary hypertension is associated with impaired exercise performance in patients with systemic sclerosis.

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Cattedra di I Clinica Medica, Università La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the exercise tolerance by expired gas analysis during stress test in patients with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc).


Eighteen women (mean age 48.56+/-12.48 years) affected by SSc were studied. A complete echocardiographic examination including pulmonary artery systolic pressure estimation, pulmonary function tests, diffusion lung capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO), and exercise test were performed. During exercise, breath-by-breath expired gas analysis was performed.


Seven patients (39%) had baseline pulmonary systolic hypertension (group A) and 11 patients (61%) did not (group B). Six patients had reduced DLCO values. Both maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and anaerobic threshold (VO2AT) values were markedly decreased compared to the predicted values. Seven of 18 patients were unable to complete a maximal exercise (5 of whom affected by pulmonary systolic hypertension). Group A patients showed reduced VO2max, VO2AT, and O2 pulse compared with patients with group B patients (p=0.004, 0.017, and 0.013, respectively); VO2max, VO2AT and O2 pulse were significantly correlated to baseline pulmonary artery systolic pressure.


An exercise intolerance in patients affected by SSc is present. Impairment of exercise performance is associated with pulmonary hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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