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Vol. 108, No. 4, 2007
Issue release date: November 2007
Cardiology 2007;108:331–337

Valvular Heart Disease by Transthoracic Echocardiography Is Associated with Focal Brain Injury and Central Neuropsychiatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Roldan C.A. · Gelgand E.A. · Qualls C.R. · Sibbitt Jr. W.L.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, N. Mex., USA

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Background: Previous studies using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) report an association of valvular heart disease (VHD) with cerebral infarcts and central neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE). However, TEE cannot be routinely used. Aim: To determine if VHD detected by transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is associated with focal brain injury on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and secondarily with central NPSLE. Methods: Sixty-nine patients with systemic lupus erythematosus underwent general clinical, neuropsychiatric and laboratory evaluations followed by MRI of the brain and TTE. Results: Forty-one patients (59%) had NPSLE (stroke, transient ischemic attack, cognitive dysfunction, acute confusional state, seizures or psychosis); 46 (67%) had focal brain injury on MRI (cerebral infarcts, white matter lesions or small punctate lesions); 38 (55%) had VHD (vegetations, thickening or regurgitation). VHD was more common in patients with than in those without focal brain injury and NPSLE (all p < 0.05); focal brain lesions were more common in patients with than in those without NPSLE (all p < 0.04); and VHD was an independent predictor of focal brain lesions and NPSLE (both p < 0.04). Conclusion: In patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, VHD detected by TTE is associated with focal brain injury and NPSLE.

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