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Arthritis Res Ther. 2018 Dec 3;20(1):266. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1761-2.

Carotid artery volumetric measures associate with clinical ten-year cardiovascular (CV) risk scores and individual traditional CV risk factors in rheumatoid arthritis; a carotid-MRI feasibility study.

Author information

1
Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
2
NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre, Leeds, UK.
3
Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre & The Division of Biomedical Imaging, Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
4
Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland.
5
Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. j.andrews@leeds.ac.uk.
6
NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre, Leeds, UK. j.andrews@leeds.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), as measured by ultrasound, has utility in stratification of the accelerated cardiovascular risk seen in rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however, the technique has limitations. Carotid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is emerging as a useful research tool in the general population, but has yet to be applied in RA populations. Our objectives were to describe the utility of carotid artery MRI (carotid-MRI) in patients with RA in comparison to healthy controls and to describe the association with RA disease phenotype.

METHODS:

Sixty-four patients with RA and no history of cardiovascular (CV) disease/diabetes mellitus were assessed for RA and CV profile, including homeostasis model assessment-estimated insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP). All underwent carotid-MRI (3 T), and were compared to 24 healthy controls. Univariable analysis (UVA) and multivariable linear regression models (MVA) were used to determine associations between disease phenotype and carotid-MRI measures.

RESULTS:

There were no significant differences in carotid arterial wall measurements between patients with RA and controls. Wall and luminal volume correlated with 10-year CV risk scores (adjusted as per 2017 European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) guidance); rho = 0.33 (p = 0.012) and rho = 0.35 (p = 0.008), respectively, for Joint British Societies-2 risk score. In UVA, carotid-MRI volumetric measures predominantly were associated with traditional CV risk factors including age, ever-smoking and HOMA-IR (p < 0.05). Lower body mass index was associated with wall maximum thickness (r = - 0.25 p = 0.026). In MVA, age was independently associated with wall volume (B 1.13 (95% CI 0.32, 1.93), p = 0.007) and luminal volume (B 3.69 (95% CI 0.55, 6.83, p = 0.022), and RA disease duration was associated with luminal volume (B 3.88 (95% CI 0.80, 6.97), p = 0.015).

CONCLUSIONS:

This study demonstrates the utility of carotid-MRI in RA, reporting an association between three-dimensional measures in particular and CV risk scores, individual traditional CV risk factors and RA disease duration. Carotid-MRI in RA is a promising research tool in the investigation of CVD.

KEYWORDS:

Atherosclerosis; Carotid MRI; Rheumatoid arthritis

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