Rheumatology International

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 301–310 | Cite as

Comparison of non-invasive assessment of arrhythmias, conduction disturbances and cardiac autonomic tone in systemic sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Piotr BieniasEmail author
  • Michał Ciurzyński
  • Bartłomiej Kisiel
  • Anna Chrzanowska
  • Katarzyna Ciesielska
  • Maria Siwicka
  • Agnieszka Kalińska-Bienias
  • Marek Saracyn
  • Monika Lisicka
  • Joanna Radochońska
  • Piotr Pruszczyk


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are connective tissue diseases presenting cardiac complications including different arrhythmias, then direct electrocardiographic comparison may be useful in everyday clinical decision making. We examined 86 adult SSc patients, 76 with SLE and 45 healthy controls. Among other examinations all subjects underwent 24-h Holter monitoring with time-domain heart rate variability and heart rate turbulence evaluation. Patients with various co-existing conditions which might markedly influence arrhythmias and autonomic modulation were excluded from further analysis (SSc n = 12, SLE n = 6). Finally, 76 SSc and 70 SLE subjects were eligible for this study, mean age 51.9 ± 13.1 and 46.5 ± 12.7 years (p = 0.11), with median disease duration 6.0 and 8.5 years (p = 0.15), respectively. As compared to SLE, patients with SSc were characterised by more frequent incidence of various supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias. As compared to SSc, patients with SLE presented prolonged corrected QT intervals and also significant correlations between corrected QT length and heart rate variability indices. Both SSc and SLE subjects presented impaired sympathetic cardiac autonomic modulation, while indices associated with parasympathetic activity in SLE were not diminished. Disease duration was not associated with arrhythmias’ occurrence (except for ventricular tachycardia in SSc, p = 0.02) and also with autonomic function in both groups of patients. Patients with SSc and SLE differ in terms of arrhythmias, conduction disturbances and cardiac autonomic tone. Regular Holter monitoring should be considered as a part of routine evaluation in connective tissue diseases patients, especially in systemic sclerosis.


Systemic sclerosis Systemic lupus erythematosus Arrhythmias Conduction disturbances Heart rate variability Heart rate turbulence Cardiac autonomic dysfunction 


Author contributions

All authors whose names appear on the submission have contributed sufficiently to the scientific work and therefore share collective responsibility and accountability for the results. All authors also fulfil ICMJE recommendations concerning authorship based on the following four criteria: (1) substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; (2) drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; (3) final approval of the version to be published; and (4) agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Dr. Piotr Bienias as the main author had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical approval

All procedures in this study were conducted in accordance with the amended Declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by an independent ethics board (The Bioethics Committee in Medical University of Warsaw, Poland, no. KB 26/2012, 14-02-2012).

Informed consent

All patients and control subjects gave their written informed consent to participate in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine and CardiologyMedical University of WarsawWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of Internal Diseases and RheumatologyMilitary Institute of MedicineWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyMedical University of WarsawWarsawPoland
  4. 4.Department of Dermatology and ImmunodermatologyMedical University of WarsawWarsawPoland
  5. 5.Department of Internal Diseases, Nephrology and DialysisMilitary Institute of MedicineWarsawPoland

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