Background Although case series suggest a higher burden of cardiovascular risk factors in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) compared with the general population, the association between SLE and heart failure (HF) remains undefined. We sought to investigate the incidence and risk of HF in patients with SLE.
Methods In April 2016, we performed a retrospective cohort analysis using the Explorys platform, which provides aggregated electronic medical record data from 26 major integrated healthcare systems across the USA from 1999 to present. Demographic and regression analyses were performed to assess the impact of SLE on HF incidence.
Results Among 45 284 540 individuals in the database, we identified 95 400 (0.21%) with SLE and 98 900 (0.22%) with a new diagnosis of HF between May 2015 and April 2016. HF incidence was markedly higher in the SLE group compared with controls (0.97% vs 0.22%, relative risk (RR): 4.6 (95% CI 4.3 to 4.9)), as were other cardiovascular risk factors. In regression analysis, SLE was an independent predictor of HF (adjusted OR: 3.17 (2.63 to 3.83), p<0.0001). RR of HF was highest in young males with SLE (65.2 (35.3 to 120.5) for age 20–24), with an overall trend of increasing absolute risk but decreasing RR with advancing age in both sexes. Renal involvement in SLE correlated with earlier and higher incidence of HF.
Conclusions The findings of this study suggest that patients with SLE have significantly higher risk of developing HF and a worse cardiovascular risk profile compared with the general population. These results need to be confirmed by prospective studies.