Lupus carditis: Evaluation with technetium-99m MIBI myocardial SPECT and heart rate variability

Bruno Laganà, Orazio Schillaci, Luigi Tubani, Raffaele Gentile, Roberta Danieli, Rossella Coviello, Luigi Baratta, Francesco Scopinaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this paper was to investigate the incidence of myocardial perfusion defects in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) associated with dysautonomic alterations. Twenty patients without any sign or symptoms of heart disease, selected from a larger population of patients with SLE, underwent technetium-99m sestamibi (Tc-99m MIBI) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), at rest and after dipyridamole infusion; they also underwent heart rate variability (HRV) examination by a 24 hour ambulatory electrocardiography, analyzing in the time domain the standard deviation of the R-R intervals average (SDNN) and the percentage of R-R adjacent intervals differing from each other more than 50 msec (pNN50); in the frequency domain the low (LF) and high frequencies (HF) were analyzed. Twenty healthy volunteers served as control group for heart rate variability. At MIBI-SPECT examination, the scan was found abnormal in 15 patients and normal in five: three patients demonstrated reversible defects in the anteroseptal region, four had irreversible defects in a region (two in the anteroseptal region and two in the lateral region), two had rest defects in two different regions (lateral and inferior, lateral and anteroseptal) that improved during dipyridamole scan, and six had both reversible and irreversible defects: four in a single segment (three anteroseptal and one lateral, and two in two different regions, particularly anteroseptal and lateral, lateral and inferior). All 20 patients showed significantly lower HRV parameters in comparison with the control group, except for pNN50, which indicates decreased physiologic periodic fluctuations of the autonomic nervous system. In six patients who underwent coronary angiography, the epicardial vessels were found completely normal. In view of the high incidence of myocardial hypoperfusion in patients with HRV alterations, the authors hypothesize that autonomic dysfunction may be associated with microvascular disease or metabolic alteration. They also believe that MIBI scintigraphy is a suitable technique in detecting myocardial damage in SLE patients free of clinical manifestation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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