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Study Reveals Links Between Lupus and Heart Disease

by | May 12, 2022

A new study finds that lupus disease activity, severity and damage are each linked to higher blood levels of apolipoprotein C-III (ApoC3) – a protein made by the body that’s associated with high triglyceride levels, a type of fat found in blood, and increased heart disease risk.

Researchers looked at data from 186 people with lupus and found that several classic risk factors for heart disease were common among study participants:

  • 17% were current smokers
  • 28% had high blood pressure
  • 26% had an obese body mass index

Additionally, many people were taking prescribed drugs related to heart disease treatment, including blood pressure medication (35%), aspirin (26%) and cholesterol-lowering statins (24%). These kinds of traditional heart disease risk factors were generally strongly associated with higher blood levels of ApoC3. However, lupus disease activity, severity and damage were also associated with increased levels of ApoC3 independently from other heart disease risk factors. This indicates that an otherwise healthy individual with lupus may still be at greater risk of developing heart disease.

This is the first study to look at ApoC3 levels in a large group of people with lupus. While the connection between lupus and how it impacts ApoC3 levels remains unclear, the latest findings suggest that this protein could be an important biomarker (biological measure) of heart disease risk in people living with lupus. Learn more about lupus and heart health.

Read the study

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