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Am J Cardiol. 2007 Sep 15;100(6):1029-34. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Comparison of frequency of complex ventricular arrhythmias in patients with positive versus negative anti-Ro/SSA and connective tissue disease.

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Department of Clinical Medicine and Immunological Sciences, Division of Clinical Immunology, University of Siena, Italy.


A previous study of electrocardiography at rest showed that anti-Ro/SSA-positive patients with connective tissue disease (CTD) frequently had corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation. Because QTc interval prolongation is a definite risk factor for arrhythmic sudden death in the general population, a 24-hour electrocardiographic monitoring study was performed to investigate the possible relation between QTc interval prolongation and incidence of ventricular arrhythmias as a possible expression of immunomediated electric instability of the myocardium in anti-Ro/SSA-positive patients with CTD. The study population consisted of 46 patients with CTD; 26 anti-Ro/SSA-positive and 20 anti-Ro/SSA-negative (control group) patients (Sjögren's syndrome, 9 and 3 patients; systemic lupus erythematosus, 4 and 9 patients; systemic sclerosis, 2 and 4 patients; undifferentiated CTD, 8 and 1 patients; mixed CTD, 2 and 2 patients, and polymyositis/dermatomyositis, 1 and 1 patient, respectively). All patients underwent ambulatory Holter electrocardiography to obtain 24-hour monitoring of the QTc interval and ventricular arrhythmias. With respect to the control group, anti-Ro/SSA-positive patients with CTD (1) commonly showed QTc interval prolongation (46% vs 5%), and this abnormality, when present, persisted for the 24 hours (global mean 24-hour QTc interval 440.5+/-23.4 vs 418.2+/-13.2 ms); (2) had a higher incidence of complex ventricular arrhythmias (i.e., Lown classes 2 to 5, 50% vs 10%) also in the absence of detectable cardiac abnormalities; and (3) in patients with CTD, there is a direct relation between global mean 24-hour QTc interval and ventricular arrhythmic load independently of age and disease duration. In conclusion, anti-Ro/SSA-positive patients with CTD seemed to have a particularly high risk of developing ventricular arrhythmias. The risk appeared related mainly to abnormalities in ventricular electrophysiologic characteristics emerging in the clinical setting as QTc interval prolongation.

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