Racial differences are known to account for a higher incidence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as well as increased disease severity and mortality. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are any race-specific risk factors that affect measures of subclinical atherosclerosis in SLE patients.
Traditional and SLE-related cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors were assessed in 106 female SLE patients. Carotid medial intimal medial thickness (mIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC) were measured on all subjects. Differences were evaluated between races for all clinical, serologic, and CVD risk factors and the racial interactions with all covariables. Outcomes included mIMT and CAC.
There were no significant differences between races with regard to mIMT or CAC. Significant covariables in the final model for mIMT included age, triglycerides, glucose, and race-age and race-smoking interactions. A prediction model with fixed significant covariables demonstrated that Black subjects with a smoking history had a significantly higher mIMT than Blacks who had never smoked, an effect not seen in Whites. There were no differences between having CAC or with the CAC scores between the races. In the final model for CAC, age and SLE disease duration were significant covariables impacting CAC.
When controlling for other significant CVD covariables and interactions, Black women, but not White, with SLE with a history of smoking have higher mIMT measurements than those who have never smoked. This is the first report documenting the race-specific effect of smoking on subclinical measures of CVD in SLE.