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Minerva Medica 2003 April;94(2):63-70


language: Italian

Cardiovascular risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus and in antiphospholipid syndrome

Sarzi-Puttini P., Atzeni F., Carrabba M.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder affecting multiple organ systems. Treatment of the disease has contributed dramatically in the long-term survival of the patients and now SLE has become a chronic inflammatory disorder. Present data suggest 5, 10 and 20-year survival rates of 93%, 85% and 68% respectively. Accelerated atherosclerosis and early coronary artery disease have become important causes of death and hospitalisation in SLE patients. Many cardiovascular risk factors can be considered: disease activity (particularly kidney involvement), sedentary life (in nearly 70% of the patients), hyperlipidemia, antiphospholipid antibodies, serum homocysteine and many others. Although traditional risk factors are operative in patients with SLE, the risk for myocardial infarction was increased 8.3 folds after controlling these factors in a study, suggesting that SLE itself was the strongest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lipid abnormalities may play a major role in increasing cardiovascular risk in SLE patients who are characterized by elevated triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and apolipoprotein (Apo) A-1. Anticardioli-pin antibodies may influence lipid levels in SLE; in particular SLE patients with IgG anticardiolipin antibodies had significantly lower HDL-C compared with patients with no anticardiolipin antibodies. Elevation of serum homocysteine is observed in 15% of SLE patients and is significantly associated with the development of stroke and arterial thrombotic events. The antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an acquired thrombotic disorder characterised by recurrent venous or arterial thrombosis or recurrent miscarriages, or both, associated with the presence in the serum of IgG or IgM anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) and/or lupus anticoagulant (LAC). APS may occur as a primary disorder (PAPS) or associated with connective tissue diseases, mainly systemic lupus erythematosus (secondary APS). Primary and secondary APS are both associated with a significant increase of cardiovascular risk.

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