Increased arterial stiffness correlated with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

Q Shang, L S Tam, E K M Li, G W K Yip, C M Yu
Lupus 2008, 17 (12): 1096-102
To evaluate the relationships between arterial stiffness, disease activity and end-organ damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), non-invasive vascular assessments were made on 32 female SLE patients and 32 female normal controls. The patients had significantly increased brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (PWV) (13.06 +/- 1.79 vs. 11.50 +/- 1.00 m/s; P < 0.001), heart-ankle PWV (8.98 +/- 1.16 vs. 7.88 +/- 0.73 m/s; P < 0.001), carotid augmentation index (AI) (21.6 +/- 17.2% vs. 5.4 +/- 14.0%; P = 0.001) and carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) (0.753 +/- 0.132 vs. 0.644 +/- 0.092 mm; P = 0.002) when compared with controls. The disease activity and organ damage were evaluated by SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI) and systemic lupus international collaborating clinics (SLICC) damage index. Patients with active disease (SLEDAI > or = 3) had significantly higher carotid AI (34.4 +/- 9.7% vs. 17.8 +/- 17.3%, P < 0.05) than stable ones (SLEDAI < 3) and those with organ damage (SLICC > or = 1) had significantly higher heart-ankle PWV (9.69 +/- 1.13 vs. 8.61 +/- 1.02 m/s, P < 0.05) than those with SLICC = 0. After making adjustments for age, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure, carotid AI was found to show correlation with SLEDAI and haPWV with SLICC. A carotid AI value of 33.3% identified SLEDAI > or = 3 with a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 80%, whereas a heart-ankle PWV value of 9.0 m/s identified SLICC > or = 1 with a sensitivity of 91% and a specificity of 67%. In conclusion, SLE was an independent risk factor of sub-clinical atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness may identify the presence of active disease.

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