Background and aims Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as a chronic inflammatory disease, has been associated with accelerated atherosclerosis. However, studies on the prevalence and impact on the peripheral vascular beds remain scarce.
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of vascular affection in SLE patients, defined as an altered ankle-brachial index (ABI), carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), doppler-duplex interrogation and clinical evaluation by a vascular surgeon, as well as its relationship to clinical and serological variables.
Methods Eighty consecutive SLE patients (≥4 ACR criteria) from an inception cohort were studied. Each patient had a vascular clinical evaluation and was screened for ankle-brachial index (ABI) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) after 12.1 (3.8) yrs of follow-up. In patients with a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a doppler-duplex ultrasound interrogation was added to the evaluation.
Results The mean age of the patients was 39 years (SD 9). Of the 80 patients studied, 4% had an abnormal ABI, 8.7% had a history of DVT, and 15% had an altered carotid IMT. The global prevalence of any-kind vascular disease was 21.2%. Variables strongly correlated to vascular disease were current age, age at diagnosis and IgM anticardiolipin (aCL IgM) antibody.
Conclusions The increased prevalence of a diverse range of vascular diseases in this young population of patients with SLE justifies a vascular evaluation in every patient to identify, follow and potentially treat them in a timely fashion.
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