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MÆDICA - a Journal of Clinical Medicine | Vol. 10, nr. 3, 2015
ISSN 1841-9038  |  e-ISSN 2069-6116
ISSN-L 1841-9038
CNCSIS - CMR - B+

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Atherosclerosis in Systemic Sclerosis: a Modern Controversy

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ABSTRACT

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a chronic disease of unknown etiology. The main feature of SSc is microvascular disease, but contemporary studies in the field have confirmed the presence of macrovascular affectation. Due to its inflammatory background, and higher cardio- and cerebrovascular death rates, it is presumed that SSc is more frequently associated to accelerated atherosclerosis, similarly to other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.

The assessment of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with SSc through different methods (such as intima media thickness, echo-tracking, wave intensity, pulse wave velocity, flow mediated dilation, nitroglycerin mediated dilation, ankle brachial pressure index or coronary angiotomography) has failed to show concordant results, regardless of the used tool.

In this review, we try to synthetise the most recent evidence about atherosclerotic involvement in SSc, reviewing the association between SSc and risk factors and also performing a summary of studies that compared atherosclerosis in SSc to controls.

Our research leads to the conclusion that in order to elucidate the extent of atherosclerosis and its consequences in SSc, further investigations are needed, combining atherosclerosis assessment tools and larger number of patients.

Keywords: systemic sclerosis, atherosclerosis, evaluation methods, discordance

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