The study, carried out by Mary J. Roman, M.D., at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Jane E. Salmon, M.D., at the Hospital for Special Surgery (N.Y.), and their colleagues examined 197 people with lupus and the same number of matched controls. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including family history of heart disease, cholesterol levels, smoking and hypertension, were similar in both groups, but atherosclerosis, as evidenced by carotid ultrasound, was more prevalent in lupus patients. The scientists also found that people with lupus who had the disease longer, had more damage from the disease, and had used less of the immunosuppressive drug cyclophosphamide to treat it were more likely to develop fatty deposits in their arteries.
"Although we've known for some time that there is an association between lupus and premature heart attacks," said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. "until now we haven't understood well the reasons. This study gives us a basis to pursue intervention strategies for reducing cardiovascular risks."
Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) is a rheumatic disease that can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain. People who have lupus may have many different symptoms, but some of the most common ones include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, skin rashes and kidney problems. Many more women than men have lupus. It i
Contact: Ray Fleming
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases