NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Most lupus patients are not aware their condition puts them at risk for heart disease, U.S. researchers said.
The study found almost half of the 25 lupus patients who filled out counseling satisfaction surveys did not know lupus was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
"Lupus patients are battling systemic inflammation, which in itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Dr. Doruk Erkan of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Care at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said in a statement.
"But many of them do not know their risk, so it is extremely important to get counseling to manage risk factors such as smoking, obesity and hypertension, which may help decrease their chances of cardiovascular disease."
Monica Richey, a nurse of the Kirkland Center, said counseling not only helps lupus patients change but those around them.
"One young woman who came to our program was 24-years-old, morbidly obese and had three kids," Richey said.
"The next time she came back, she brought her kids because they were all upset with me. She had gone home and thrown out all the soda, cookies and chips."
The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American College of Rheumatology meeting in Philadelphia this week.