Dr Skeoch completed her junior doctor training in Manchester and following this gained an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship in Rheumatology, based at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester. During this post, she developed an interest in cardiovascular disease in rheumatic conditions and obtained an MSc in Clinical Rheumatology. The aim of her PhD is to investigate cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis using non-invasive imaging techniques.
PhD: Investigation of atherosclerosis and the effects of anti inflammatory therapy on plaque morphology in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory condition which causes joint pain and damage. Patients have a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to people without RA. We also know that some patients are at higher risk than others. It is thought that inflammation damages the arteries causing disease however the mechanism is unknown. New treatments have been developed which suppress inflammation in joints but this has not yet led to a significant reduction in CVD.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to visualise the artery in great detail and can tell us more about how much inflammation is in the blood vessels. We will use MRI to study RA patients and detect if drug treatment improves inflammation in the arteries. We will also assess whether any disease characteristics or blood tests are associated with signs of arterial disease.
Our results will help us understand more about why patients get CVD, whether drugs used to treat RA have a beneficial effect on arterial disease and ultimately be able to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in RA patients.