Objective: To determine the prevalence of abnormal lipid profiles in 100 consecutive patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and the role of potential risk factors.
Methods: Fasting lipid profiles were measured using an enzymatic method. Biodata noted for each patient included age, sex, race, presence of diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, familial hyperlipidemia, smoking history, presence of nephritis or nephrotic syndrome, lupus activity as measured by the lupus activity criteria count (LACC), duration of SLE, use of antihypertensive agents and the current and cumulative dose of steroids. Statistical analysis was done using PC SAS software.
Results: Seventy-three patients had abnormal lipid profiles. Patients with normal and abnormal profiles were comparable in age, sex, race, history of diabetes mellitus, familial hyperlipidemia, and smoking. Abnormal values of total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides (TG) and TC/high density lipoprotein (HDL) were associated with renal involvement and high dose corticosteroids (> 30 mg prednisolone/day). HDL levels were significantly lower in patients receiving high dose corticosteroids (p < 0.05). In patients with active lupus disease but without renal disease, lipid abnormalities were not observed.
Conclusion: Abnormal lipid profiles are common in this group of patients with SLE. High dose steroids and the nephrotic syndrome are important contributing factors.