Background Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have an increased cardiovascular (CV) risk, probably due to accelerated atherosclerosis.
Objectives To analyze the prevalence of subclinical CV disease in SLE using carotid ultrasonography.
Methods We studied 36 SLE patients and 127 age and sex matched controls. Traditional CV risk factors were recorded according to a standardized protocol. Carotid ultrasonography was performed by a MyLab 70 scanner (Esaote; Genoa, Italy), equipped with 7–12 MHz linear transducer and the automated software guided technique radiofrequency – Quality Intima Media Thickness in real-time (QIMT, Esaote, Maastricht, Holland) to determine carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and plaques, according to the Mannheim Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Consensus.
Results No statistically significant differences in the frequency of smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus or personal and family history of CV events between patients and controls were found. However, the prevalence of dyslipidemia was increased in SLE (31% vs 16% in controls; p=0.056) and SLE patients had a higher body mass index (BMI) (27.1±5.4 vs 25.2±4.8, p=0.051). The cIMT was also significantly higher in SLE patients when compared to controls (0.644±0.122 vs 0.573±0.113 mm; p=0.001). This difference persisted after adjustment for BMI and dyslipidemia (p=0.009). Moreover, the prevalence of carotid plaques in SLE patients was also increased (42% vs 23% in controls; p=0.033).
Conclusions Both cIMT and carotid plaque frequency are increased in SLE patients. The presence of carotid plaques identifies individuals at very high cardiovascular risk. Therefore, tight controls of dyslipidemia and other cardiovascular risk factors should be conducted in SLE patients.
Disclosure of Interest None declared