Heart Health Management in People with Lupus

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Heart Health Management in People with Lupus


New research by Lupus Foundation of America Gina M. Finzi Memorial Fellowship Awardee Megan Zhao shows that people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) are at notably high risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), a form of heart disease, yet largely aren’t receiving key treatments to help lower their heart disease risk.

A group of 370 people with SLE or CLE were assessed for standard ASCVD risk factors, including hyperlipidemia (e.g., high cholesterol), hypertension, smoking, and diabetes. The group’s risk factors were being monitored according to established guidelines. Nearly half (45.83%) had bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, 52.9% had high blood pressure, and 27.3% had diabetes or prediabetes. Additionally, 45.9% were former or current smokers.

After adjusting for recommended guidelines for people with lupus:

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

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

If you need resources and information on how to better manage heart health, reach out to the Lupus Foundation of America’s Health Education Specialists for non-medical support.



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