Black Women With Lupus Develop Heart Disease Younger
African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than other women. They are also more likely to develop the disease at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, including death and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Black Women are More Affected by Lupus Complications
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease in which the body attacks its own healthy tissues and organs. Common symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, muscle aches and pains, fever with no known cause, fatigue, anemia, and skin rashes – most notably a butterfly-shaped red rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks. The disease is often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 44, and women are affected significantly more often than men.
Lisabeth V. Scalzi MD, of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and colleagues used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database to identify over 90,000 adult hospitalizations for SLE between 2003 and 2006. The researchers also studied approximately 19 million hospitalizations for patients without SLE as a control measure. The results were analyzed for racial disparities in SLE for CVD events and CVD-related death.
Overall, females with SLE were hospitalized for acute cardiovascular disease at a younger age than those without lupus – average age 60.8 versus 71.3. When broken down by race, black women with lupus were hospitalized younger than black women without SLE – average age 53.9 compared to 65.8.
African-American women with lupus were also the youngest to die of cardiovascular-related events. The mean age of death among black women with lupus was 52.8 compared to 67.1 for whites, 62 for Hispanics, and 63.8 for Asians.
Studies indicate that inflammation caused by immune system antibodies play a role in the development of heart disease in lupus patients. Inflammation causes a build-up of fatty deposits within the coronary arteries, contributing to blood clots and blockage of blood vessels increasing the risk of heart attack. Lupus patients are also more likely to have other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension.
According to the National Institutes of Health, although there is no cure, the outlook for lupus patients has greatly improved. Women can take help to control heart disease risk factors with weight control, smoking cessation, diet and exercise.