We tested the hypothesis that carotid atherosclerosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL), which is independent of any association with traditional risk factors (TRFs), lifestyle and socioeconomic factors. Women with SLE completed the RAND Medical Outcome Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey version 1 (MOS SF-36). B-mode Doppler examination of the carotid arteries determined the presence of atherosclerotic plaque. The association between carotid plaque and HRQOL domains was analysed using logistic regression models with sequential adjustments for age, TRFs, education level and employment status. We studied 181 women, 47 (26%) of whom had carotid plaque. Carotid plaque was significantly associated with lower levels of physical functioning (p = 0.047), vitality (p = 0.04), role emotional (p = 0.04) and mental health subscales (p = 0.01) and lower mental component summary score (MCS) (p = 0.03). These associations were no longer significant after adjustment for age and TRFs, especially smoking. Smokers had lower physical functioning, vitality and mental health and more bodily pain. The association between carotid plaque and HRQOL was not independent of TRFs and smoking was a key mediator of the associations found. Poor HRQOL in smokers will need addressing as part of any smoking cessation strategies in SLE patients.
- Health-related quality of life
- Systemic lupus erythematosus