Lupus and Other Connective Tissue Disease Increases Risk for Cardiovascular Problems

Source: University of Chicago

As reported by a press release from University of Chicago, a new study based on medical records from more than a quarter million adult patients found that African-American patients with connective tissue diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis were twice as likely as white patients to suffer from narrowed or atherosclerotic blood vessels, which increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke or death.

The study, published Feb. 4, 2016, in the open-access Nature journal, Scientific Reports, also showed that the prevalence of narrowed blood vessels in patients with connective tissues disease (CTD) was particularly high in young African-Americans.

"These findings raise new questions about the links between inflammation, connective tissue diseases and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease," said study author Francis Alenghat, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the section of cardiology at the University of Chicago. "They point to differences in heart disease risk tied to systemic inflammation and modified by race and age."

Nonetheless, "the findings show that CTD is associated with higher prevalence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, an association that is accentuated in African-Americans and in young adults," Alenghat said. "These insights could be used to improve how we evaluate many patients with a wide range of connective tissue diseases."

They also support the importance of controlling inflammation and identifying and addressing traditional cardiovascular risks factors.