Increased risk of valvular heart disease in systemic sclerosis: An underrecognized cardiac complication

Reto D. Kurmann, Edward A.El Am, Yasser A. Radwan, Avneek S. Sandhu, Cynthia S. Crowson, Eric L. Matteson, Kenneth J. Warrington, Rekha Mankad, Ashima Makol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective. Cardiac involvement is a poor prognostic marker in systemic sclerosis (SSc). While diastolic dysfunction, myocardial fibrosis, and arrhythmias are traditionally considered features of primary cardiac involvement in SSc, the incidence of valvular heart disease (VHD) is not well reported. Our objective was to examine the prevalence of VHD at the time of SSc diagnosis and incidence of VHD during follow-up compared to non-SSc subjects. Methods. Medical records of patients with suspicion of SSc were reviewed to identify incident cases. SSc subjects were matched 1:2 by age and sex to non-SSc subjects. Results. The study included 78 incident SSc cases and 156 non-SSc comparators (56 yrs [c 15.7], 91% female). A nearly 4-fold increase in the prevalence of moderate/severe VHD prior to SSc diagnosis compared to non-SSc subjects (6% vs 0%; P = 0.004) was identified. During follow-up, 18 SSc and 12 non-SSc patients developed moderate/severe VHD. The cumulative incidence of VHD at 10 years after SSc incidence/index was 17.9% (95% CI 10.7 29.9) in patients with SSc compared with 2.3% (95% CI 0.7 7.0) in non-SSc subjects (HR 4.23, 95% CI 2.03 8.83). Coronary artery disease was the only significant risk factor for VHD. Conclusion. Patients with SSc have a 4-fold increase in the prevalence of moderate/severe VHD at diagnosis compared to non-SSc patients. They also have a 4-fold increased risk of developing moderate/severe VHD after diagnosis of SSc. Aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation have a much higher prevalence in patients with SSc, besides secondary tricuspid regurgitation. Underlying mechanisms for this association require further elucidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1052
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • cardiomyopathies
  • heart disease
  • incidence
  • scleroderma
  • systemic sclerosis
  • valvular heart disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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