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Lupus and Coronary Artery Disease (Atherosclerosis)

People who have lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE) are at a higher risk for plaque deposits in arteries (atherosclerosis) that may cause coronary artery disease (CAD). And they develop these deposits at a younger age. This means that people with lupus are likely to have a greater risk for CAD and for having a heart attack due to a blockage of the blood flow to a part of the heart muscle. For people who have lupus, coronary artery disease is a major cause of illness and death. It's not clear why people with lupus develop early CAD. But it may be related to ongoing inflammation and the response of the immune system.1

To address this increased risk of atherosclerosis, some experts recommend that all people with lupus (regardless of symptoms) be considered at increased risk for coronary artery disease. Research continues for understanding and then guiding treatment of this increased risk.

Recommended Related to Lupus

WebMD's My Story: How a Reader Faces Lupus 1 Day at a Time

At 23, I was on top of the world. I had my dream job as a writer and traveled all over North America to research stories. I bought my first townhouse. I was loving life. After a trip to Montreal, I developed the flu. I was exhausted. I often got tired after trips, but this time was different. My hands were shaking, my joints were stiff, and my heart was racing. I could barely make it up the stairs. In the days following, my symptoms worsened. The pain felt even worse when doctor after doctor could...

Read the WebMD's My Story: How a Reader Faces Lupus 1 Day at a Time article > >

Citations

  1. Crow MK (2008). Systemic lupus erythematosus. In L Goldman, D Ausiello, eds., Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 23rd ed., pp. 2022–2032. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last Revised May 10, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 10, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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