Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a known chronic inflammatory disease. It has been reported that this inflammation can affect the endothelium of blood vessels and induce a dysfunction. We wanted to examine patients with rheumatoid arthritis and whether they have an impaired flow-mediated dilation (FMD), as a measure of endothelial dysfunction.
Methods: In this study 27 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were selected from a larger study. We measured FMD response and compared them with a group of 33 healthy controls. We also studied the time from ended occlusion to maximum dilation (time to peak).
Results: There was a significant difference in FMD between the group of RA patients compared with healthy controls (p = 0.008). RA patients display a FMD of 6.3 ± 4.2% while our healthy controls had an FMD of 10.5 ± 6.7%.
There was no significant difference between groups in the "time to peak". RA group reached the maximum dilation after 68 ± 28 seconds, and the controls had the highest diameter of 61 ± 22 seconds.
Discussion: We found a significantly lower FMD response in the group of RA patients than healthy controls. This may indicate that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an inflammatory response, resulting in a endothelial dysfunction, measured by an impaired FMD response.