Is There a Brain/Heart Interaction in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Seronegative Spondyloartropathies? A Combined Brain/Heart Magnetic Resonance Imaging Reveals the Answer

PURPOSE OF REVIEW To present the interaction between brain/heart and emphasize the role of combined brain/heart magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other seronegative spondyloarthropathies (SNA).
RECENT FINDINGS Both traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and intrinsic RA/SNA features contribute to the increased CVD-related morbidity/mortality. CVD in RA usually occurs a decade earlier than age- and sex-matched controls, and RA patients are twice more likely to develop myocardial infarction irrespective of age, history of prior CVD, and traditional CVD risk factors. RA also increases risk of non-ischemic heart failure (HF), valvular disease, and myo-pericarditis. CVD in SNA affects more commonly patients with long-standing disease. Ascending aortitis, aortic/mitral insufficiency, conduction defects, and diastolic dysfunction are the commonest findings in ankylosing spondylitis (AS). CVD is also the leading cause of death in psoriatic arthritis (PsA), due to myopericarditis, diastolic dysfunction, and valvular disease. Brain damage, due to either ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke and silent vascular damage, such as white matter hyperenhancement (WMH), is increased in both RA/SNA and may lead to cognitive dysfunction, depression, and brain atrophy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is ideal for serial brain/heart evaluation of patients with systemic diseases. RA/SNA patients are at high risk for brain/heart damage at early age, irrespectively of classic risk factors. Until more data will be obtained, a combined brain/heart MRI evaluation can be proposed in RA/SNA with new onset of arrhythmia and/or HF, cognitive dysfunction and/or depression.

as reported in: Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2020 Jun 19; 22(8): 39