When it comes to cardiac disease and lupus, I really don't know as much as I should. As lupites, I know we're at greater risk of developing heart disease, but I've never really known why. And up until now, I didn't think I needed to explore the reasons. But finding out a few weeks ago that a thirty-something friend of mine with lupus had a heart attack, I decided to do a little research, and figure out why we're at risk, and what we can do about it.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the Lupus Foundation D.C. Maryland Virginia Chapter will be featuring Dr. Susan Manzi, co-founder of the Lupus Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, a fellow Notre Dame grad, and one of the limited lupologists worldwide, as speaker at their upcoming annual summit in Chevy Chase, Maryland on Saturday, May 5th.
What's her topic and one of her areas of expertise? Lupus and the heart. (Title: Keeping your Heart Healthy with Lupus.) I'm not going to miss it!
Click here to register for the event. (And yes, I'll be there with my pillbags and book...but during Dr. Manzi's speech, you'll find me front and center in the audience!)
In an upcoming post, I'll tell you what I discovered in my research, and how it goes beyond the typical advice to keep your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure under control. All excellent advice, but I wanted to know - if I'm already doing that, am I in the clear as far as lupus and my heart go? Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here are a few snippets that I thought I'd share. Very interesting stuff!:
*In studies that compared a group of women with lupus to a group of healthy women, researchers found that the lupus patients were more likely to have traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and hypertension. In addition, these women had an earlier onset of menopause, and had higher levels of unsafe blood fats, including triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. These factors are all exacerbated by the inflammation caused by lupus and contribute to the increased risk of coronary heart disease and accelerated atherosclerosis.
*Although heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, it usually does not occur until after women go through the change of life (menopause). This is usually around the age of 55 or 60. In lupus, women between the ages of 35-45 years have a 50 times greater chance of having a heart attack than women without lupus. Overall the risk of coronary disease is about 10 times more likely in women with lupus at all ages.
*Several factors specifically related to lupus are proposed to have considerable importance [in heart disease], including chronic inflammation, antibodies that attack proteins that regulate the blood vessels, and therapy, especially corticosteroid use. As a result, researchers suggest that lupus should be considered equivalent to coronary heart disease as a known risk for heart attacks and strokes.