Cardiopulmonary Manifestations

Cardiac abnormalities contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality in SLE and are one of the most important clinical manifestations of the disease. In addition, involvement of the lungs and pleurae is common. Pericarditis, an inflammation of the pericardium, is the most common cardiac abnormality in SLE. Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, may also occur, but is rare. Myocardial infarction, caused by artherosclerosis, has been reported in SLE people below the age of 35 years.

Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) and serositis (inflammation of serous membranes) are frequently part of the autoimmune pathology of SLE. These conditions report well to corticosteroids. Vasculitis may cause many different symptoms, depending on the system(s) most affected. Serositis most commonly presents as pleurisy or pericarditis. Pleuritic chest pain is common. Pleurisy is the most common respiratory manifestation in SLE. Attacks of pleuritic pain can also be associated with pleural effusions. Many patients complain of chest pain, but pericardial changes are not often demonstrated on clinical evaluation.