Heart and Diabetes Risks in Lupus

Metabolic syndrome in lupus linked to steroid use and ethnicity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) People with lupus are at risk of a variety of heart-related problems. So, researchers wanted to see what factors may lead to metabolic syndrome (a condition that boosts heart disease risk) in lupus patients.

Korean and Hispanic lupus patients were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than patients of other ethnicities, according to recent findings.

In addition, kidney disease and higher steroid doses were linked to a greater risk of metabolic syndrome in these patients.

"Exercise and eat healthy."

Metabolic syndrome is the name used for a group of risk factors that happen together and boost the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Ian N. Bruce, MD, FRCP, of the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Manchester, and colleagues set out to study metabolic syndrome in people with lupus - a group that is already at risk of heart disease.

A total of 239 of 1,494 patients (16 percent) in the study had metabolic syndrome.

The researchers found that Korean lupus patients were 6.33 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Hispanic patients were 6.2 times more likely to develop the condition.

The authors noted that the higher rates of metabolic syndrome among Korean and Hispanic patients may be partly due to higher rates of the condition in those populations as a whole.

Still, metabolic syndrome was more common among those with lupus than without.

The researchers also found that patients with kidney disease were 1.79 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, while those using immunosuppressant drugs were 1.81 times more likely to develop the condition.

In addition, higher steroid doses were associated with a increased risk of metabolic syndrome, particularly in the early stages of lupus. Since steroids are commonly used to treat lupus, this finding may lead doctors and patients to take a second look at their treatment plan.

According to the authors, this study showed that metabolic syndrome is common in young patients recently diagnosed with lupus.

In addition, metabolic syndrome was associated with more severe lupus and higher steroid doses. Therefore, treatment for individual patients should try to balance disease control while cutting down on steroid use, they said.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Arthritis Research UK among others.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

The study was published September 3 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 23, 2012
Last Updated:
September 28, 2012