Carotid atherosclerotic alterations in systemic lupus erythematosus patients treated at a Brazilian university setting

R W Telles, C C D Lanna, G A Ferreira, A J Souza, T P Navarro, A L Ribeiro
Lupus 2008, 17 (2): 105-13
To determine the frequency of carotid plaque and intima-media thickness (IMT) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and their association with risk factors in a Brazilian university setting. Carotid plaque and IMT were identified and measured by ultrasonography. Traditional risk factors and lupus-related factors were analysed. One hundred and seventy-two patients (women = 96%, age = 38 +/- 11 years) were evaluated. The frequency of carotid plaque was 9.3%. The median (IR) IMT was 0.60 mm (0.54-0.71 mm). Age, family history (FH) of premature coronary disease, low-density cholesterol (LDL-c) >100 mg/dL, hypertriglyceridemia, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, postmenopause, number of risk factors, Framingham risk score, age at diagnosis, duration of lupus, mucocutaneous manifestations and duration of prednisone use were associated with plaque (P < 0.05), univariate analysis. Nephritis, immunosuppressive therapy, intravenous methylprednisolone and a higher average daily dose of prednisone were associated with the absence of plaque. Independent predictors of plaque were smoking (P = 0.004), LDL-c >100 mg/dL (P = 0.044), Framingham score (P = 0.006) and absence of immunosuppressive therapy (P = 0.032). There was an independent correlation between IMT and age (P < 0.001) and duration of prednisone use (P = 0.020). Subclinical atherosclerosis was associated with traditional risk and SLE-related factors, especially the absence of immunosuppressive therapy. The present study suggests that the levels of LDL-c should be kept under 100mg/dL in lupus.

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