Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are significantly more likely to experience a myocardial infarction or a stroke than age-matched controls. We compared the prevalence of conventional and lupus-specific risk factors in patients with SLE just before a cardiovascular event and in matched controls with SLE but no cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Twenty-nine patients with SLE and CVD were enrolled. For each patient, 2 ethnically- and sex-matched controls were obtained, 1 matched for age and 1 for SLE duration. Data regarding risk factors were collected for the time immediately preceding the relevant cardiovascular event, or at an equivalent time for controls.
Patients' median age at event was 49 years (interquartile range 43–54 years) and mean disease duration was 12.0 ± 7.1 years. Patients with SLE and CVD were more likely than both age and duration controls to be treated for hypertension (P = 0.01 and P = 0.001, respectively) and to have elevated triglyceride levels (P = 0.05 and P = 0.01, respectively). Compared with duration controls, CVD patients were more likely to have lupus anticoagulant (P = 0.03), but less likely to be receiving treatment with hydroxychloroquine (P = 0.003). Compared with age controls, patients were more likely to be current smokers (P = 0.03), to have taken a mean dosage >7.5 mg/day of prednisolone (P = 0.04), and to have been treated with pulsed methylprednisolone (P = 0.03). In multivariable analysis, only hypertension treatment was an independent risk factor for CVD.
We identified significantly increased prevalence of some conventional and lupus-specific risk factors in patients with SLE immediately before a CVD event compared with controls matched for age or disease duration.