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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 694143, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/694143
Review Article

Imaging Assessment of Cardiovascular Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Centre for Rheumatology, Division of Medicine, University College London, London WC1E 6JF, UK

Received 30 June 2011; Revised 26 August 2011; Accepted 26 August 2011

Academic Editor: Antonio Fernández-Nebro

Copyright © 2012 Sara C. Croca and Anisur Rahman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a multisystem, autoimmune disease known to be one of the strongest risk factors for atherosclerosis. Patients with SLE have an excess cardiovascular risk compared with the general population, leading to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although the precise explanation for this is yet to be established, it seems to be associated with the presence of an accelerated atherosclerotic process, arising from the combination of traditional and lupus-specific risk factors. Moreover, cardiovascular-disease associated mortality in patients with SLE has not improved over time. One of the main reasons for this is the poor performance of standard risk stratification tools on assessing the cardiovascular risk of patients with SLE. Therefore, establishing alternative ways to identify patients at increased risk efficiently is essential. With recent developments in several imaging techniques, the ultimate goal of cardiovascular assessment will shift from assessing symptomatic patients to diagnosing early cardiovascular disease in asymptomatic patients which will hopefully help us to prevent its progression. This review will focus on the current status of the imaging tools available to assess cardiac and vascular function in patients with SLE.