• peripheral arterial disease;
  • systemic lupus erythematosus



The aim of our study was to: (i) map out the presence of peripheral vascular disease in a sample of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients; and (ii) correlate our findings with disease characteristics, activity indices, traditional risk factors of atherosclerosis and thrombotic variables.


The study population comprised 120 SLE patients and 100 controls. Clinical data were collected for patients and controls with stress on clinical issues of SLE patients, including British Isles Lupus Assessment Group index score, anti-double stranded DNA titer C3 and C4 levels, and treatment taken, mainly steroids. Measurements of thrombotic variables were performed. Non-invasive arterial assessment was performed, including carotid duplex scanning and measurement of carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and peripheral arterial assessment and measurement of ankle–brachial pressure index (ABPI).


The mean age of SLE patients was 32 years and mean disease duration was 8 years. There were no statistically significant differences in the traditional vascular risk factors measured between SLE patients and controls. There were significantly higher plasma levels of thrombotic variables in SLE patients. The average IMT was statistically significantly greater in SLE patients compared to controls. Thirty SLE patients (25%) had an ABPI < 1.0 compared with six controls (6%), which was statistically significant.


This study showed an increased prevalence of peripheral arterial disease in SLE patients as shown by the higher carotid artery IMT and lower ABPI in such patients compared with controls. Multiple risk factors are likely to be involved in such findings.