You are more likely to develop heart disease if you have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This also means that you are at higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke, especially at a younger age. This is due to the chronic inflammation caused by SLE. Inflammation can damage your heart and circulation system over time.
Your doctor can check for inflammation in your body with two tests:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
There are other factors that can raise your risk of heart disease if you have SLE. Steroids are a common treatment for SLE. Frequent steroid use raises the risk of developing both heart disease and diabetes. People with SLE often have other risk factors for heart disease unrelated to SLE, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Have your doctor check your heart disease risk. This check takes into account your age, sex, past medical history, and the results of a cholesterol test. Treating risk factors can reduce your overall risk of heart disease. Reducing the risk of heart disease is especially important for people with SLE.
SLE can be hard on your heart, so treat your risk factors and do your part!