Lupus affects heart health in almost all patients. It affects all three layers of the heart, including the pericardium, myocardium, and endocardium.
In pericarditis, patients would complain of substernal pain and breathlessness. In a few instances, patients may also develop pericardial effusion. ECG is generally ordered in such cases, and auscultation is done to evaluate the patient. Fluid drainage is done in case of an effusion.
In myocarditis, the patient presents with palpitation, tachycardia, and breathlessness. Pericarditis is less common, affecting 10% of lupus patients. The most important tests to diagnose pericarditis are ECG and chest X-Ray. Myocarditis occurs as a part of lupus flare-ups, and it is detected by serological tests and other imaging studies.
In endocarditis, small nodule-like lesions are formed on the valves, and these are commonly referred as vegetations. This condition is widespread among lupus patient, and it is collectively called Libman Sach’s endocarditis. Patient presents with fever, malaise, tachycardia, and palpitations. Nodules are 1-4 mm in diameter and are “mulberry-like clusters” mostly present near the edge of the valve. The mitral and aortic valve are the most common sites of such lesions. An immediate visit to the doctor is necessary to ward off any serious consequence of the disease. The physician normally does ECG and cardiac auscultation under such circumstances. Patients with lupus are also at increased risk of developing other heart condition, like atherosclerosis and acute myocardial infarction. One study has shown that 35 to 44-year-old women with lupus have a 50% higher chance of having a heart attack than an average woman.
Apart from cardiac involvement, vascular inflammation is another serious problem faced by lupus patients. Vessels may break and bleed into the tissue as a consequence of the disease. Fever, poor appetite, blurry vision, seizures, stroke, weight loss, and mood disturbances are some significant problems associated with vasculitis.
Lupus is a dreadful disease that affects a wide range of organs including the skin, heart, lung, kidney, and brain, following relapsing and remitting course. It may affect each person differently, but there are some warning signs patients should always be wary of in order to prevent further complications. Immediate consultation with the doctor and proper medication can reduce the widespread damaging effects of this disease.