Lupus: Associated Conditions

Reviewed by JoAnn Zell, MD

What Other Conditions Are Associated with Lupus?

Heart Disease

Because lupus can affect any organ system, including the cardiovascular system (which includes the heart and blood vessels), some people can experience fluid around the heart or heart inflammation. Recent reports suggest that people with a chronic autoimmune disease, such as lupus, may also be at increased risk of heart disease (also called atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease).

Heart disease is a condition where fatty substances, called plaque, build up in the heart's arteries. The plaque hardens and makes the arteries narrower, affecting blood flow. This can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

At this time, researchers are unsure of the true cause of the increased risk of heart disease, but chronic inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus may be partially responsible. Other potential risk factors include the medicines used to treat lupus, such as corticosteroids.

More traditional risk factors such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease and high blood pressure can also increase the chance of heart disease.

It is interesting that the increased risk of heart disease seen in lupus patients appears to be separate from these more traditional risk factors, suggesting that lupus is to blame. However, it is still recommended that you work with your doctor to try to limit the traditional risk factors to best prevent the development of heart disease.

 

Other conditions

Other conditions related to lupus include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection. As noted above, lupus can affect almost any organ of the body. Be sure to keep your doctor informed of any symptoms, so that he or she can make sure you get the best treatment.

 

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