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Keywords:

  • Valvular regurgitation;
  • Antiphospholipid;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Abstract

Objective

To assess whether the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies is related to the incidence and progression of severe valvular dysfunction and the need for valve replacement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods

In this prospective, long-term followup study, the initial echocardiographic findings in a cohort of 61 consecutive SLE patients were compared with those of 40 matched controls. All patients were serially evaluated for 14 ± 3 years and had a followup echocardiogram 8 ± 3 years after the initial evaluation. Serial determinations of anticardiolipin antibodies and lupus anticoagulant were performed in all cases.

Results

The number of SLE patients with valvular abnormalities increased from 39% to 73% between the initial and the followup echocardiography, but only 7 patients (12%) developed severe valvular regurgitation. Severe valvular regurgitation was significantly associated with the presence of high levels of IgG anticardiolipin antibodies (P = 0.001). The combined incidence of stroke, peripheral embolism, need for valve surgery, and death was 86% in patients with severe valvular regurgitation, compared with 25% in those without (P = 0.003).

Conclusion

In SLE patients, the presence of high levels of IgG anticardiolipin antibodies is associated with the development of severe valvular regurgitation and with a high incidence of thromboembolic events and the need for valvular surgery.