Study Reinforces the Importance of Heart Health in Lupus Care
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death among people with lupus. However, traditional CVD risk assessments do not fully take into account this increased vulnerability, especially among young adults. To better assess CVD risk associated with lupus a recent study looked at coronary artery calcium (CAC) levels in people with lupus. CAC scores measure the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries and help predict CVD mortality independent of other risk factors, like age, genetics, lifestyle, and other co-occurring heart issues.
Using CT scans to determine CAC scores of 76 people with lupus, between the ages of 18 to 64 years-old, without known coronary artery disease, the researchers found that 42% of the study’s participants presented with some degree of coronary artery calcification, and their CAC scores increased with advancing age. Furthermore, participants younger than 46 years-old had higher CAC scores compared to the control group in the same age bracket. In particular, the odds of women under age 46 were 12.6 times higher than women of the same age group in the control cohort.
The study’s findings suggest that subclinical atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside the arteries) develops early in people with lupus and warrants timely screening and protective interventions. Learn how lupus affects the heart and circulation.