About Lupus

Lupus and Cardiovascular Health

Barbara Mendez, MD
Assistant Professor, Rheumatology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease

Standard risk factors are:

  • Age
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperlipidemia – excess of fat proteins in the blood
  • Hyperglycemia – excess of sugar in the blood
  • Smoking – causes inflammation of the blood vessels and arteries
  • Genetic factors

Lupus-related Risk Factors

  • Systemic inflammation – damages the blood vessels and increases the formation of deposits that accumulate and eventually can block flow of blood through the arteries
  • Circulating immune complexes – autoimmune reactions injure blood vessels
  • Nephritis
  • Dyslipidemia – abnormal cholesterol

Tests to Detect Coronary Artery Disease
Tests your doctor may recommend include:

  • Stress test - usually involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike while your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored
  • Coronary computed tomography angiogram (CTA) – an imaging test to determine ifr fatty deposits or calcium deposits have built up in your coronary arteries, the arteries that supply blood flow to the heart
  • Catherization -  a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart.

What Can You Do to Promote Heart Health

Ask your doctor for recommendations and guidelines for how you can:

  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels
  • Stop smoking
  • Manage weight
  • Exercise
  • Decrease steroid use to lessen inflammation

Adopt a Healthy Diet

  • Increase fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains and high fiber
  • Oily fish (cold water fish)
  • Limit alcohol to 1/day
  • Low sodium
  • Limit saturated fats and trans-fats

Click here for Dr. Mendez’ full presentation.

This column is not meant to substitute for medical advice from your own healthcare provider – please talk to your doctor about recommendations for preventing lupus complications.  

Dr. Barbara Mendez-Agrusa is a rheumatologist in Bronx, New York and is affiliated with Jacobi Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center. She received her medical degree from University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  She serves as Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Rheumatology) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.