Metabolic syndrome in lupus affecting women prevented by antimalarial drug

Metabolic syndrome in lupus affecting women prevented by antimalarial drugMetabolic syndrome in lupus affecting women can be prevented by antimalarial drug. A recent study uncovered that an antimalarial drug could be effective in preventing metabolic syndrome in women with lupus. Metabolic syndrome is classified by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as, “the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.”

The study, led by Luciana F. Muniz, evaluated the frequency of metabolic syndrome and disease in relation to 103 premenopausal female lupus patients along with 35 healthy premenopausal control women.


Metabolic syndrome was higher among the women with lupus in comparison to the healthy women. The researchers also found that the use of chloroquine – an antimalarial drug – had protective effects against metabolic syndrome in lupus patients.

Lupus patients and the increased risk of metabolic syndrome

metabolic acidosisBritish researchers uncovered that nearly one-third of their study cohort of patients with lupus had factors of metabolic syndrome. The cohort consisted of 1,150 patients where they found the prevalence of metabolic syndrome to be 38.2 percent.

Over time, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome began to vary among different ethnicities and races. Prevalence among Caucasians was 35.5, 32.6 and 31.4 percent at baseline, and for African-Americans, it was 57, 38.8 and 62 percent at baseline.

The authors wrote, “The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a clustering of related CHD (coronary heart disease) risk factors associated with an increased cardiovascular risk in the general population and is a useful clinical tool to identify patients who may warrant more focused CHD risk assessment. Understanding the interplay between disease activity, therapeutic exposure and MetS in SLE would better inform CHD risk stratification and help guide treatment regimens in higher risk patients.”

An additional study also looked at 1,484 patients who had had lupus for at least 18 months. Metabolic syndrome was found in 16 percent of patients and was more common in men than women. Ethnically, metabolic syndrome was more common in Hispanics and Koreans, and patients with metabolic syndrome were more likely to be older as well.

Lupus-related factors that contribute to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome included active nephritis, severe lupus disease activity, low platelets, current oral or past intravenous steroid treatment, and current immunosuppressive treatment.

The researchers also found that antimalarial treatment was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome in lupus patients.

The findings in both studies suggest that metabolic syndromes are quite common in lupus patients, more so among those who are treated with high dose steroids. It is recommended that doctors use low dose steroids to treat lupus to reduce the risk of metabolic syndromes as well as the use of antimalarial drugs.

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