Diabetes has been considered an important cause of heart attacks and strokes for a long time. While systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been noted by experts to also cause heart attacks and strokes, it has never been included in the main list of causes (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) by any of the “leaders” of the scientific community, such as The American Heart Association. A recent 2020 study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research looked at the Medicaid database from 29 states. Comparing over 40,000 SLE patients with over 80,000 diabetics during the years 2007 and 2010, they showed that the lupus patients had a 27% higher chance of having heart attacks and strokes than the diabetics. The research has been overwhelming regarding how important of a risk factor lupus is for causing these problems. Heart attacks and strokes (i.e. cardiovascular disease) are the #1 cause of death in SLE patients, and these problems occur much earlier in life than they should. It is time for SLE to be added to the list of diseases that are most likely to increase the risk for having heart attacks and strokes.
The Bottom Line:
If you have SLE, it is imperative that you do everything possible to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Make sure to read and practice everything in my "Lupus Secrets" for good advice on what to do.
Note that Dr. Thomas' posts are for informational purposes only, and are not meant to be specific medical advice for individuals. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions regarding your own medical situation.
DONALD THOMAS, MD