Purpose: Our study sought to determine the frequency and clinical and immunologic characteristics of pericarditis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the files of all patients with SLE diagnosed between 1987 and 2005. The study included only those patients who had undergone echocardiography. They were divided in two groups according to whether or not they had pericarditis, and their clinical and immunologic characteristics and outcome were compared.
Results: Our records found 180 patients with SLE, 97 of whom had had echocardiography. The frequency of pericarditis was 39%. The average age of the 34 women and 4 men with pericarditis at its onset was 36.4 years. There were 59 SLE patients without pericarditis, 56 women and 3 men with an average age of 28.8 years. Pericarditis was frequently associated with pleural effusions. The prevalence of anticardiolipin antibodies was significantly lower in the group of patients with pericarditis.
Conclusion: Pericarditis is the most common cardiac manifestation in SLE. Its frequency in this sample of Tunisian patients was similar to that described in different ethnic groups. The association between pericarditis and pleuritis is standard. Anticardiolipin antibodies, commonly positive in valve diseases, were less frequent in our patients with pericarditis.