Introduction: An increased rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been suggested in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The risk for myocardial infarction (MI), coronary artery disease and stroke has been reported as particularly prevalent in younger females compared with the reference population. This study was performed to analyse the standard incidence ratio (SIR) of and predictors for cardiovascular events (CVEs) in patients with SLE from northern Sweden, with a fairly homogenous population.
Methods: In 2000 all prevalent patients with SLE (≥4 American College of Rheumatology [ACR] criteria; n = 277) from the four northern-most counties of Sweden were assessed with clinical and laboratory analyses. Seven years follow-up data concerning MI and stroke were extracted from the national registers of hospitalization and death in Sweden. The incidence ratio among the patients was compared with that for the general population from the same catchment area using data from the same register and Statistics Sweden. To identify time to event and CVE predictors, two matched controls for each patient were used and disease related variables as CVD predictors.
Results: The SIR for a CVE was 1.27 (95% CI 0.82-1.87) and for females separately aged 40-49 years was 8.00 (95% CI 1.65-23.38). The overall SIR for MI was 2.31 (95% CI 1.34-3.7), for females overall was 1.75 (95% CI 0.84-3.22) and for females aged between 40 and 49 years was 8.7 (95% CI 1.1-31.4). The time to an event was significantly shorter among SLE patients (p < 0.001) and was predicted by hypertension adjusted for smoking and disease. High SLEDAI and anti-cardiolipin IgG antibodies predicted an event in Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for age and previous MI. Diabetes, smoking ever and sex did not affect the prediction models.
Conclusion: The risk of a CVE, or MI, was eight- or nine-fold greater among middle-aged female SLE patients. Time to event was significantly shorter and CVE was associated with SLE-related factors including hypertension and age.