Cognitive dysfunction and cardiovascular disease are common and debilitating manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this study, we evaluated the relationship between cardiovascular events, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and SLE-specific risk factors as predictors of cognitive dysfunction in a large cohort of participants with SLE.
Subjects included 694 participants from the Lupus Outcomes Study (LOS), a longitudinal study of SLE outcomes based on an annual telephone survey querying demographic and clinical variables. The Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised and the Controlled Oral Word Association Test were administered to assess cognitive function. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke), traditional cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, smoking), and SLE-specific risk factors (antiphospholipid antibodies [aPL], disease activity, disease duration) associated with cognitive impairment in year 7 of the LOS.
The prevalence of cognitive impairment as measured by verbal memory and verbal fluency metrics was 15%. In adjusted multiple logistic regression analyses, aPL (odds ratio [OR] 2.10, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.3–3.41), hypertension (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.19–3.56), and a history of stroke (OR 2.27, 95% CI 1.16–4.43) were significantly associated with cognitive dysfunction. In additional analyses evaluating the association between these predictors and severity of cognitive impairment, stroke was significantly more prevalent in participants with severe impairment when compared to those with mild or moderate impairment (P = 0.036).
These results suggest that the presence of aPL, hypertension, and stroke are key variables associated with cognitive impairment, which may aid in identification of patients at greatest risk.