Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the most serious complications of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This study investigated the frequency of established CVD and its associated risk factors in Chinese patients with SLE. A retrospective, cross-sectional analysis was conducted of 1,072 consecutive patients with SLE from a single center. Patients with CVD were identified on the basis of medical record documentation. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the risk factors of CVD. Of the 1,072 patients with SLE, 71 (6.6%) had CVD. Patients with CVD were older than patients without CVD (39.0 ± 15.6 vs. 31.9 ± 13.3 years; P < 0.001), the frequency of CVD in patients aged ≤19 years, between 20 and 39 years, between 40 and 69 years, and greater than 60 years was increased by 3.4%, 5.5%, 9.2%, 20.4%, respectively. The frequency of CVD was higher in SLE patients with nephritis than without nephritis (7.6% vs. 3.8%; P = 0.026). Multivariate regression analyses confirmed that age ≥60 years (OR = 5.098; 95% CI 1.333, 19.488), higher diastolic blood pressure (OR = 1.050; 95% CI 1.022, 1.078), higher serum creatinine levels (OR = 1.002; 95% CI 1.000, 1.003), and long-term use of glucocorticoids (OR = 1.005; 95% CI 1.000, 1.010) were risk factors for CVD. HDL-C levels (OR = 0.121; 95% CI 0.041, 0.358) were negatively associated with CVD in patients with SLE. Our data suggest that the frequency of CVD was high in Chinese patients with SLE, and independent risk factors for CVD were increased age, higher diastolic blood pressure, higher serum creatinine levels, long-term use of glucocorticoids, and lower HDL-C levels.