Identifying Life-Threatening Arrhythmias in Scleroderma
Relatively recent studies suggest that 20–25% of people with scleroderma have clinical evidence of myocardial disease.2 Implantable loop recorders (ILRs) have been used in the general population to identify people at risk of life-threatening arrhythmias, and who therefore need implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (pacemakers). As part of a wider investigation into cardiac involvement in scleroderma, Dr Maya Buch and her group at the University of Leeds have been studying the use of ILRs in identifying scleroderma patients who would benefit from more accurate cardiac testing or evaluation. It is also hoped that the study will improve our understanding of the correlation between abnormal cardiac function and clinical outcome.
This small study is using novel methods to analyse the small structures and vessels of the heart and monitor its electrical changes. Within the first year, data recorded by the ILRs revealed that one out of the 20 patients who had received an implant needed a pacemaker and one had a previously undiagnosed arrhythmia, which was then treated with medication.
This study is due to finish later this year. The results are eagerly awaited and we will publish the results on our website. The positive initial results from this pilot study support the need for a larger trial of ILR use in people with scleroderma and suggest that ILRs could have an important role in identifying individuals in need of interventions such as medications and pacemakers.