A Meta-analysis and Systematic Review of Valvular Heart Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Its Association With Antiphospholipid Antibodies

J Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Dec 1;27(8):e525-e532. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000001464.


Background: Valvular heart disease (VHD) is a known cardiac manifestation of systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This systematic review aims to pool data from studies to estimate the frequency of valvular lesions in SLE patients. It also aims to demonstrate the association between VHD in SLE and antiphospholipid antibodies positivity.

Methods: We included 27 studies after identifying relevant abstracts from PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar from the time of inception of database to 2019. Inclusion criteria consisted of English-language case-control and cohort studies. Three reviewers independently performed study selection, data extraction, and quality assessment using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for assessing risk for bias.

Results: For VHD in SLE patients, the most commonly involved valve was the mitral valve, with 19.7% lesions being mitral regurgitation. In terms of morphological lesions, valve thickening (11.06%) and vegetations (11.76%) were among the most prevalent. Other commonly encountered lesions were mitral valve prolapse and tricuspid regurgitation in 9.25% and 10.86% of patients, respectively. A meta-analysis of 21 studies with 2163 SLE patients, of which 23.3% had valvular lesions, showed a significant association of anticardiolipin antibodies positivity with VHD (relative risk, 1.55; confidence interval, 1.10-2.18).

Conclusions: Systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with VHD, and it should be considered a clinical manifestation of SLE in the absence of other valvular pathologies. There is a clear association between VHD in SLE and immunoglobulin G anticardiolipin antibodies positivity. This association suggests that this subgroup of SLE patients might benefit from a screening echocardiogram.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Heart Valve Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Heart Valve Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / complications
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / epidemiology


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid