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Acta Cardiol. 2015 Apr;70(2):169-75.

Systemic lupus erythematosus: the influence of disease-related and classical risk factors on intima media thickness and prevalence of atherosclerotic plaques--a preliminary report. Beneficial effect of immunosuppressive treatment on carotid intima media thickness.



The risk of cardiovascular disease is increased in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A meta-analysis showed increased carotid intima media thickness (IMT) in SLE. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of different SLE characteristics and treatment regimens on IMT and atherosclerotic plaques.


One hundred and three SLE patients and 95 age- and sex-matched control subjects were included in the study. MT was measured in the common carotid arteries bilaterally. Common carotid arteries, internal carotid arteries and superficial femoral arteries were also screened for the presence of plaques. The presence of plaques was correlated with age (P = 0.00002), male sex (P = 0.034), Framingham 10-year risk score (P < 1 x 10(-6)), SLE duration (P = 0.00006), lack of immunologic disorder (P = 0.0014) and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology (SLICC/ACR) Damage Index (P = 0.049). IMT was associated with SLE duration (P = 0.002), body mass index (P = 0.026), Framingham 10-year risk score (P < 0.001), total cholesterol concentration (P = 0.002), LDL cholesterol concentration (P = 0.007), SLICC/ACR (P = 0.035), hypertension (P = 0.002), immunologic disorder (P = 0.00008) and discontinuous treatment with immunosuppressive drugs (P = 0.043).


We found a correlation between atherosclerosis and several classical cardiovascular risk factors and disease-related factors. A beneficial effect of continuous immunosuppressive treatment on IMT suggests that appropriate disease control with steroid-sparing agents may protect against atherosclerosis in SLE patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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