Systemic Sclerosis Linked to Coronary Calcification

Systemic sclerosis independently increases risk of severe coronary artery calcification

FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an independent risk factor for coronary calcification in addition to other conventional risk factors for coronary atherosclerosis, such as age and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the May issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Mo Yin Mok, M.D., from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues investigated the relationship between coronary atherosclerosis and conventional cardiovascular and disease-specific risk factors in 53 SSc patients with an average age of 53.1 years and average disease duration of nine years. The coronary artery calcium score (CACS) and cardiovascular risk factors in SSc patients were compared with 106 controls matched for age, sex, and glycemic status.

The investigators found significantly lower levels of LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index in SSc patients compared to controls. SSc patients were more likely to receive vasodilators than the controls. A significantly higher proportion of patients with SSc had severe coronary calcification (CACS > 101) than had less severe calcification (CACS < 100) (56.5 versus 29.4 percent). After adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors, SSc together with age and LDL cholesterol level was found to be an independent risk factor for having a CACS greater than or equal to 101 (odds ratio [OR], 10.89). Of the disease-specific factors, only disease duration was independently correlated with CACS more than 101 (OR, 1.14).

"SSc patients have an 11-fold increased risk of moderate to severe coronary calcification after adjustment for conventional cardiovascular risk factors," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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