Coronary artery disease in systemic lupus erythematosus: A review of the literature

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Jun;30(6):436-43. doi: 10.1053/sarh.2001.23498.


Context: Coronary artery occlusive disease is a common though underappreciated complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), typically a disease of young women. A case of a premenopausal patient with SLE and an acute myocardial infarction is presented, and the etiology and management of coronary artery disease in SLE reviewed.

Objectives: To review the incidence, risk factors, pathology and treatment of coronary artery disease in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Data sources: MEDLINE search of articles in English-language journals from 1980 to 2000. The index words "systemic lupus erythematosus" and the following co-indexing terms were used: "coronary artery disease," "atherosclerosis," "vasculitis," "anticardiolipin antibodies," "antiphospholipid syndrome." SELECTION SYNTHESIS AND ABSTRACTION: Papers identified were reviewed and abstracted by the authors with a presentation of a summary.

Results: The prevalence of coronary artery disease among women with SLE between the ages of 35 and 44 years is at least 50-fold greater than among age-matched control subjects. Of these, coronary atherosclerosis accounts for the vast majority of cases; vasculitis of the coronary arteries and other causes generally believed to be more typical of SLE are comparatively rare.

Conclusions: The evidence suggests that SLE is a significant risk factor for coronary atherosclerosis independent of the classic risk factors of hypertension, tobacco use, and hyperlipidemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology