Atherosclerosis in premenopausal women with antiphospholipid syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus: a controlled study

P G Vlachoyiannopoulos, P G Kanellopoulos, J P A Ioannidis, M G Tektonidou, I Mastorakou, H M Moutsopoulos
Rheumatology 2003, 42 (5): 645-51

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether premenopausal women with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have increased prevalence of atherosclerosis after adjustment has been made for known cardiovascular risk factors.

METHODS: We evaluated premenopausal women with APS in comparison with age-matched groups of patients with SLE [positive or negative for anticardiolipin (aCL) antibodies] or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and healthy subjects. Thirty-three subjects in each group were assessed for cardiovascular risk factors, including a detailed lipid profile. Ultrasonography of carotid and femoral arteries assessed the intima-media thickness (IMT) and the presence of atherosclerotic plaque.

RESULTS: Atherosclerotic plaques were detected in 5, 2, 4, 1 and 1 subject in the five groups respectively. APS patients had significantly more affected vessels than RA patients and healthy controls (P=0.042 and P=0.016, respectively), but not compared with SLE patients. No consistent differences in IMT, traditional cardiovascular risk factors or lipid parameters were detected among the five groups. The odds for atherosclerosis independently increased 1.19-fold per year of increasing age [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.31; P=0.001), 1.019-fold per 1 mg/dl increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (95% CI 1.003-1.036; P=0.020), 1.035-fold per additional 1 g of methylprednisolone equivalent cumulative corticosteroid dose (95% CI, 0.996-1.074; P=0.074), and 4.35-fold in the presence of APS or SLE (95% CI 0.75-25.2; P=0.10). Neither aCL nor anti-beta(2)GPI antibodies were associated with atherosclerosis.

CONCLUSION: Premenopausal APS and SLE women have an increased prevalence of carotid and femoral plaque that is not accounted for by other predictors of atherosclerosis, including age, lipid parameters and cumulative steroid dose.

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