Lupus Patients Have Increased Risk of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Study Shows

Lupus Patients Have Increased Risk of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Study Shows

Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have an increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases — a risk that they share with patients who have other chronic inflammatory conditions, according to a study published in the journal Heart.

Those taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids appeared to have a particularly heightened risk, the study from King’s College London in the U.K., demonstrated.

The findings indicate that researchers need to focus on the development of clinical guidelines that aim to prevent cardiovascular disease in people with inflammatory disease in general, and lupus patients in particular, as those with lupus had the highest risk of all patient groups.

Earlier research had already indicated that patients with inflammatory conditions were more prone to develop cardiovascular or metabolic disease, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, or venous thromboembolism.

The research team had previously studied patients in a primary care setting, and found increased rates of those conditions in patients with inflammation. But it was not certain if the findings could be applied to a community-based population, where patient and disease factors tend to be more varied.

The study, “Cardiovascular and type 2 diabetes morbidity and all-cause mortality among diverse chronic inflammatory disorders,” used data from the U.K. Biobank — a prospective study that gathers medical and demographic information — to assess risk of disease and mortality.

Among the 502,641 participants, 4 percent, or 19,082 individuals, had a diagnosis of lupus or another inflammatory disease. Psoriasis was the most common diagnosis, and lupus the least common, with only 654 affected patients.

Other included diseases were ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and ulcerative colitis.

Lupus patients turned out to be among the most affected, with 4 percent having multiple cardiovascular or metabolic events. The one exception was type 2 diabetes, which was more common in people with other inflammatory conditions. Their risk of cardiometabolic disease was more than six times higher than people without any inflammatory condition.

The team noted that patients tended to have certain combinations of diseases — coronary heart disease was often found with either type 2 diabetes, venous thromboembolism, or stroke.

Lupus patients who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid had an even higher risk of cardiometabolic disease — more than 12 times higher than people without inflammatory disease and who did not take such medications.

In line with these findings, analyses showed that lupus patients also had the highest all-cause, and cardiometabolic-related mortality among the studied participants.

Researchers noted that an ongoing study at the U.K. Biobank is collecting data that can shed more light on the relationship between lupus and cardiometabolic disease. Such studies might in time provide insights into how heart or metabolic conditions in these patients can best be prevented, or managed if they develop.


  1. Suzanne Zeleznik says:

    I wish I had known all this when My weight was 180 + lbs @ 5’3″. I now weigh 135 lbs and am 5’2″. I was told I had an auto- immune disease in 1978 at age 32. Pregnant 1980, I was diagnosed with Lupus and bad Raynauds. It’s only gotten worse! DVT in the 90’s & on blood thinners ever since; lmini-strokes from 2012 and a major mini-stroke in 2015; heart issues, yatta yatta. Lupus is not fun!

    • Christine Ryan says:

      I was just diagnosed after 15 years of basically knowing I had Lupus. Long story that includes non impressive “labs”not ever testing with a positive ANA but it was obviously to my medical doctor and Lupus family of friends over time it was Lupus. The above comment struck a chord with me because at 37 I had pericardits for the first time, joint pain, fatigue. I gained weight and was told it was some connective tissue disease maybe even fibro. Point is I never had the right treatments. Recently I lost 40 lbs I am 140 5’4, great, but I wasn’t trying. Finally I went to a rheumatologist who started practicing only 9 years ago, she was educated later with more recent science. She immediately diagnosed lupus with minimum old labs and some reports on gastro, cardio and my clinical hx. She said I was at a high risk for cardiovascular disease and also need to be evaluated immediately for neuropsychiatric lupus, bc I have hx of sezuires, mood disorder, increased cognitive difficulty (ALL onset same time as other symptoms). The point is finding a good rheumatologist is key. I should have thought sooner to look for someone educated more recently

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