New Test May Predict Heart Disease in People With Lupus
Last updated: May 2023
Managing their disease can be challenging and lifelong for people living with lupus. In addition to dealing with symptoms, they must also be mindful of the potential for complications, such as heart disease. While treatments are available to help prevent heart disease, early detection is key to successfully managing the condition.
How does lupus affect the heart?
The heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular system) may be affected by lupus in several ways. For example, lupus can cause inflammation of the heart's lining.1
Inflammation is caused by your immune system. It is your body's way of responding to a threat, like germs or an injury. When you have an autoimmune disease, like lupus, your immune system sees your own healthy cells and tissues as a threat. This leads to chronic (long-term) inflammation.2
Inflammation in your heart's lining leads to chest pain and fluid collecting around the heart. Coronary artery disease – not lupus itself – is the number one cause of death in people with lupus.1
Lupus can also cause inflammation of the heart's valves. This leads to valve damage and leaking. In addition, lupus can cause:3
- Inflammation of the arteries
- Narrowing of the arteries
These problems with the cardiovascular system can lead to severe complications such as heart failure or stroke. Therefore, it is vital for people with lupus to be monitored closely by their doctors for any signs or symptoms of cardiovascular problems.3
Reducing your risk of heart disease
The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, you can help to increase and maintain your cardiovascular health by:3
Additionally, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cardiac problems. That way, you can seek prompt medical treatment if necessary. By taking steps to maintain your best cardiovascular health, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall quality of life.3
New genetic test predicts heart disease
Researchers have developed a genetic precision medicine test that may help to predict the risk of heart disease in people with lupus. In the past, consuming a high-fat diet and smoking have been linked to heart disease. But this new test can look at lesser-known risk factors. The test will enable doctors to prevent serious cardiovascular events by providing targeted treatment.4
This new test looks at a person's DNA to identify specific genetic markers that have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The test can then determine whether a person is likely to develop heart disease. If they are, the test can also help determine what kind of treatment they may need.4
This information will help doctors to provide targeted treatments that can reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events. The development of this test is a significant breakthrough in the field of precision medicine. The test holds great promise for the future of lupus treatment. It could enable earlier intervention and potentially save lives by helping to identify those at high risk for heart disease.4
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?