Systemic lupus erythematosus and cardiovascular disease: A unique educational initiative

Cardiology Review® Online, January 2007, Volume 24, Issue 1

African Americans have the highest rate of coronary artery disease (CAD) death in the United States of any racial/ethnic group. Similarly, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has an increased prevalence of 2-4 fold in African American females. Systemic lupus erythematosus is a complex multisystem auto-immune disease, with premature CAD as a major cause of illness and death in this population. Ninety percent of affected patients are female, with an average age of disease onset in the early-to-mid 30s. Although its estimated prevalence is 1 out of every 1000 women in the general population, it affects 1 out of every 250 African American women.

Cardiac involvement in lupus includes pericarditis, hypertension, myocarditis, endocarditis, valvular heart disease, acute thrombotic myocardial infarction, and premature CAD. Moreover, SLE patients present early with CAD and in patients with juvenile onset SLE, CAD has even been reported to start in their 20s. Lupus itself has been shown to be an independent risk factor for CAD.

During the first quarter of 2007, the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. (ABC), in conjunction with the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), will offer a unique educational initiative focusing on the clinical manifestations and special treatment considerations of persons suffering from lupus and cardiovascular disease (CVD). To strengthen this joint effort between the ABC and LRI, a special curriculum development meeting was held on September 16, 2006 at the ABC International Library, Research and Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Moderated by Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, Chief Science Officer of the ABC, and Andrea O’Neill, LRI Director of Development, committee members investigated the best ways to educate clinicians regarding lupus and CVD. Members included Cynthia Aranow, MD of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Paolo Raggi, MD and S. Sam Lim, MD of Emory University School of Medicine; Maureen McMahon, MD of the University of California, Los Angeles; Elizabeth Ofili, MD and Myra Rose, MD of the Morehouse School of Medicine; Rosalyn Scott, MD, of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and Tammy Utset, MD of the University of Chicago. Some of the key areas that were discussed and will be addressed during the educational symposia include the diagnosis and clinical manifestations of lupus, inflammation and atherosclerosis, treatment of thrombosis and inflammatory factors, approach to renal dysfunction in lupus nephritis, novel research finding for lupus, and the lupus registry.

For further information on this conference, please visit the ABC website (

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www.abcardio.org). Information about the Lupus Research Institute can be found at www.lupusresearchinstitute.org