Features associated with cardiac abnormalities in systemic lupus erythematosus

Objectives. To determine the prevalence of echocardiographic abnormalities and identify associated clinical and laboratory features in a large systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) cohort.

Methods. Patients fulfilling ACR criteria for SLE underwent a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) between January 2005 and June 2006. Variables used as potential correlates included age, sex, ethnicity, lupus duration, lupus disease activity (SLEDAI), cumulative damage (SLICC/ACR damage index (DI)), arterial hypertension, diabetes, current smoking, medication use and laboratory data. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the association between TTE abnormalities and potential determinants.

Results. For the 217 subjects with a TTE performed during the study, the main abnormalities were of the mitral valve (37.3%) and included thickening (25.4%) and insufficiency (25.8%). Other findings included pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) ≥ 30 mm Hg (10.1%), pericardial effusion (4.6%), hypokinesis (2.8%), and aortic insufficiency (3.7%). In multivariate analysis, mitral insufficiency was associated with the use of corticosteroids (OR 2.90; 95%CI 1.42–5.94) and hypokinesis with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (12.89; 1.06–157.18). Elevated PAP was associated with age (1.04; 1.01–1.07) and with DI (1.20; 1.01–1.42).

Conclusion. Valvular abnormalities are frequent in patients with SLE, with mitral valve lesions occurring in over one third. TTE screening may be indicated in patients with SLE, especially for those with identified risk factors such as corticosteroid use.

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