Best Life: Early detection can help prevent and manage heart problems in lupus patients

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 6:20 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in people with lupus with about 50% of lupus patients having serious heart complications as a result of their disease. Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin, joints, kidneys and blood cells. But it can also affect the heart.

Ivanhoe reports on new research that could help detect these heart problems with a simple blood test.

“I’ve noticed weight gain, fatigue, joint pain. It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I got my diagnosis for lupus,” said Diana Yeauger Espinoza.

Younger women in their mid-thirties or forties with lupus are more than 50 times more likely to have a heart attack than women of similar age who don’t have lupus.

“Lupus is much more common in women than men, about nine to one,” said Brad H. Rovin, MD, Professor of Medicine and Pathology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Researchers at the University of Houston say a comprehensive metabolic screen from the blood can identify metabolism issues that might lead to future plaque build-up in the heart.

Heart problems commonly associated with Lupus include inflammation of the sack that lines the heart, valve abnormalities, rhythm disorders, like arrhythmias, inflammation of the muscular tissue, and accelerated arterial plaque build-up.

Doctors say controlling active Lupus and preventing flare-ups are the best steps in preventing and managing heart problems.

“The quicker you can get to the patient and treat them, the more effective the medications are to decrease the inflammation, turn off the inflammatory systems,” said Rovin.

Early identification in these high-risk Lupus patients can launch preventive measures during the early stages of the disease.

Most heart complications can be detected by a simple electrocardiograph, or EKG, standard chest x-ray, echocardiograph, doppler investigation, or lab tests.

Mild heart conditions in Lupus patients can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen or corticosteroids to decrease pain and inflammation.

Contributors to this news report include: Leslie Hudson, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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