Public Release: 

Heart monitor implant could save lives in patients with serious immune disease

First study to show value of recorder in detecting potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias in patients with Systemic Sclerosis

European League Against Rheumatism

London, United Kingdom, June 9, 2016: The results of a study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2016) showed that use of an easy to insert heart monitor in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and no known heart disease enables early detection and treatment of potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. The findings support the need to identify SSc patients at risk of heart problems that would benefit from this implanted recorder.

SSc is an autoimmune rheumatic disease affecting multiple organs, including the heart. Damage to the heart as a direct consequence of SSc may involve the conduction system that controls the heartbeat, the heart muscle, heart valves and/or the external lining of the heart. Cardiac involvement is thought to be common in patients with SSc, although there are often no symptoms or signs.

"We know that cardiac involvement in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) is associated with a very poor prognosis, accounting for between 14 and 55% of deaths among patients with SSc," , said Dr Lesley-Anne Bissell of the Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, University of Leeds, United Kingdom. "Early diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risk of complications is therefore essential and crucial for a positive outcome," she added.

This heart monitor (also known as an implantable loop recorder) is a subcutaneous, single-lead, electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring device used to diagnose heart rhythm abnormalities. It is capable of storing ECG data automatically in response to any significant change in heart rhythm, or in response to patient activation when symptoms are experienced. Its use is well established in cardiology practice.

The device, about the size of a pack of chewing gum, is typically inserted through a small cut to lie under the skin in the upper left chest. Electrodes that monitor the heart's electrical activity are on the surface of the device, so there are no wires, and the device is enclosed in a protective case. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic and takes 15-20 minutes.

In this pilot study, the heart monitor picked up a variety of heart rhythm abnormalities in more than half of the cohort of 19 SSc patients, including supraventricular ectopics, ventricular ectopics, ventricular tachycardia and complete heart block. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance imaging data available for 15 of these SSc patients showed markers of cardiac damage that significantly correlated with these heart rhythm abnormalities.

Abstract Number: OP0037

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress

Press Office in the London Suite at ExCel London during EULAR 2016 or on:

Email: eularpressoffice@cohnwolfe.com

Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7725 915 492 / +44 (0) 7786 171 476

Twitter: @EULAR_Press

Youtube: Eular Pressoffice

About EULAR

The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is an umbrella organisation which represents scientific societies, health professional associations and organisations for people with Rheumatic Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMD) throughout Europe.

EULAR aims to promote, stimulate and support the research, prevention, and treatment of RMD and the rehabilitation of those it affects.

EULAR underlines the importance of combating rheumatic diseases not only by medical means, but also through a wider context of care for rheumatic patients and a thorough understanding of their social and other needs. EULAR is supported in this mission by its 45 scientific member societies, 36 PARE (People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe) organisations, 22 HPR (Health Professionals in Rheumatology) associations and 23 corporate members.

The EULAR Annual European Congress of Rheumatology is the foremost international medical meeting announcing the latest research on rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. EULAR 2016 is expected to attract over 14,000 delegates from around 120 countries. Most if not all professions working in the vast field of RMD will be represented.

To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit: http://www.eular.org

References

1. EULAR 2016; London: Abstract OP0037

2. Lambova S. Cardiac manifestations in systemic sclerosis. World Journal of Cardiology. 2014; 6(9):993-1005. doi:10.4330/wjc.v6.i9.993

3. Hachulla AL, Launay D, Gaxotte V, de Groote P, Lamblin N, Devos P, et al.Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in systemic sclerosis: a cross-sectional observational study of 52 patients.Ann Rheum Dis 2009; 68: 1878-84

4. Tyndall AJ, Bannert B, Vonk M, et al. Causes and risk factors for death in systemic sclerosis: A study from the EULAR Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) database. Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2010; 69(10): 1809-15

5. Elhai M, Meune C, Avouac J, et al. Trends in mortality in patients with systemic sclerosis over 40 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2012; 51(6): 1017-26

6. Mittal S. Implantable loop recorder. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1920236-overview. [Accessed 12 May 2016]

7. http://www.medtronicdiagnostics.com/intl/index.htm [Accessed 12 May 2016]

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