Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus may develop premature atherosclerosis, notably coronary artery disease. A group of 10 patients with peripheral vascular disease presenting with intermittent claudication or gangrene were studied from a group of 563 patients followed prospectively at the Wellesley Hospital Lupus Clinic. These 10 patients were compared with the next lupus clinic patient matched for age and sex, with respect to demographic characteristics and risk factors. The patients and controls did not differ significantly in lupus activity criteria count, partial thromboplastin time, the number with antibody to cardiolipin, number receiving steroids or mean steroid dose, family history of atherosclerosis, hyperlipidaemia, smoking, hypertension or use of oral contraceptives. The risk factors for developing peripheral vascular disease were a longer duration of systemic lupus erythematosus and a longer duration of use of steroids. Eight of the 10 patients had coexistent coronary artery disease or transient ischaemic attack.
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