Managing heart health in people with lupus


New research from the Lupus Foundation of America, Gina M. Finzi Memorial Fellowship recipient Megan Zhao, shows that people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) are at particularly high risk for the disease atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), a form of heart disease. disease, but generally do not receive key treatments to help reduce their risk of heart disease.

A group of 370 people with SLE or CLE were assessed for standard risk factors for ASCVD, including hyperlipidemia (eg, high cholesterol), hypertension, smoking, and diabetes. Group risk factors were monitored according to established guidelines. Almost half (45.83%) had bad cholesterol (LDL), 52.9% had high blood pressure and 27.3% had diabetes or prediabetes. In addition, 45.9% were former or current smokers.

After adjusting the recommended guidelines for people with lupus:

  • 88.9% of the group are now classified as high risk and were not taking cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • 73.5% were newly classified as very high risk and were not taking cholesterol medication
  • 39.1% are classified as being at extreme risk and were also not taking cholesterol-lowering medication
  • Among patients with clinically evident ASCVD, 43.9% were not taking cholesterol-lowering medications
  • In fact, 22.2% of the group experienced a heart-related event or diagnosis.

People with SLE or CLE have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Zhao’s research suggests people with lupus should be placed in a higher risk group with more frequent screening. As it stands, people with lupus are not being adequately treated for the average risk factors for heart disease. Learn more about Zhao and his research efforts.

If you need resources and information on how to better manage heart health, contact the health education specialists at the Lupus Foundation of America for non-medical support.


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