Total plaque area and plaque echogenicity are novel measures of subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Multiple studies have shown that these patients have increased numbers of carotid plaques and greater intima-media thickness (IMT) than healthy controls. Measures such as total plaque area (TPA) and plaque echogenicity may be more sensitive and more relevant to cardiovascular risk than presence of plaque and IMT alone. Our objective was to produce the first report of TPA and echogenicity in a population of.s with SLE.One hundred patients with SLE and no history of clinical CVD were recruited. Clinical, serological and treatment variables were recorded and serum was tested for antibodies to apolipoprotein A-1 and high-density lipoprotein. Both carotid and both femoral artery bifurcations of each patient were scanned to determine IMT, TPA and echogenicity of plaques. Univariable and multivariable statistical analyses were carried out to define factors associated with each of these outcomes.Thirty-six patients had carotid and/or femoral plaque. Increasing age was associated with presence of plaque and increased IMT. Triglyceride levels were associated with presence of plaque. Mean (SD) TPA was 60.8 (41. 6) mm2. Patients taking prednisolone had higher TPA. Most plaques were echolucent but increased echogenicity was associated with prednisolone therapy and persistent disease activity.TPA and plaque echogenicity in patients with SLE are associated with different factors than those associated with presence of plaque and IMT. Longitudinal studies may show whether these outcome measures add value in the management of cardiovascular risk in SLE.

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