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Neurology. 1994 Mar;44(3 Pt 1):385-93.

Large cerebral vessel occlusive disease in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202-2689.


We systematically investigated clinical, laboratory, radiologic, and pathologic features, including treatment and prognosis, of stroke syndromes in 30 patients, six from our institution and 24 from the literature, with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and symptomatic large cerebral vessel occlusive disease, documented by angiography or autopsy. The average age at stroke onset was 35 years, and the diagnosis of SLE was made on average 4.4 years prior to that. At least 86% had active SLE at the time of their stroke. Headache was common at onset. We found major intracranial or extracranial vessel occlusive process by (1) thrombus, (2) dissection, (3) fibromuscular dysplasia or vasculitis, and (4) atherosclerosis. The presumed mechanisms were coagulopathy, cardiogenic embolism, large cerebral vessel vasculitis or occlusive vasculopathy, cervical arterial dissection, and premature atherosclerosis. The short-term death rate was 40% and the recurrent stroke rate was 13%. We conclude that symptomatic large cerebral vessel occlusive disease in SLE generally occurs several years after the diagnosis of SLE, usually during the active phase of the disease, is related to heterogeneous mechanisms, and carries a relatively poor short-term outcome.

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