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Lupus. 2000;9(3):176-82.

Vascular imaging: changing the face of cardiovascular research.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA 15213, USA.


Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at significant risk for premature cardiovascular disease, now a leading cause of death in this population. Most previous studies have used an overt clinical event to identify cardiovascular disease, likely underestimating the actual prevalence in these patients. Although the rates of myocardial infarction in SLE are high, the actual number of coronary events is low, precluding large clinical trials using a coronary event as the sole outcome. The ability to measure atherosclerosis, a known determinant of coronary heart disease, provides investigators with a desirable surrogate for the clinical cardiac event. With the advent of sensitive imaging techniques to identify subclinical atherosclerosis, we are now better equipped to determine the true prevalence and mechanisms of vascular disease in SLE. In this review, we will discuss several vascular imaging techniques and the current trend away from measuring flow-limiting vessel stenosis toward measuring earlier structural and functional aspects of the vascular system.

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