From a recent paper:
Transthoracic echocardiography was performed in 187 patients (105 men), mean age (SD) 50 (13) years, and mean disease duration 24 (13) years, and was related to demographic, clinical, radiographic, electrocardiographic, and laboratory data.
Aortic regurgitation was found in 34 patients (18%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 12%-24%): mild in 24, moderate in 9, and severe in one. The prevalence was significantly higher than expected from population data. Conduction system abnormalities were documented in 25 patients (13%; 95% CI, 8%-18%), and significantly more likely in the presence of aortic regurgitation (P = .005), which was related to increasing age and longstanding disease, and increased from ∼20% in the 50s to 55% in the 70s. It was also independently associated with disease duration, with higher modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis Spine Score, and with a history of anterior uveitis. HLA-B27 was present in similar proportions in the presence vs absence of aortic regurgitation. For comparison, clinically significant coronary artery disease was present in 9 patients (5%; 95% CI, 2%-8%).
Patients with ankylosing spondylitis frequently have cardiac abnormalities, but they more often consist of disease-related aortic regurgitation or conduction system abnormalities than manifestations of atherosclerotic heart disease. Because aortic regurgitation or conduction abnormalities might cause insidious symptoms not easily interpreted as of cardiac origin, we suggest that both electrocardiography and echocardiography evaluation should be part of the routine management of patients with ankylosing spondylitis.