Management of cardiovascular complications in systemic lupus erythematosus

Int J Clin Rheumtol. 2010 Feb 1;5(1):75-100. doi: 10.2217/ijr.09.73.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Patients with SLE have an excess risk compared with the general population; this is particularly pronounced in younger women with SLE who have an excess risk of over 50-fold compared with population controls. There is a higher prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with SLE compared with controls, as demonstrated by a variety of imaging modalities discussed in this review. The causality of the excess risk of CVD and subclinical atherosclerosis is multifactorial in patients with SLE. While traditional risk factors play a role, after controlling for the traditional Framingham risk factors, the excess risk is still 7.5-fold greater than the general population. This review will also cover novel cardiovascular risk factors and some SLE-specific variables that contribute to CVD risk. This review discusses the risk factor modification and the evidence available for treatment of these risk factors in SLE. There have not yet been any published randomized, controlled trials in patients with SLE with respect to CVD risk factor modifications. Thus, the treatment and management recommendations are based largely on published guidelines for other populations at high risk for CVD.