A young woman was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus at the age of 7 years and incurred an acute myocardial infarction at the age of 17 years. Her risk factors for coronary artery disease include hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, a relatively long disease duration, a fairly active disease as evidenced by the history of nephrotic syndrome and other organ system involvement, and a long history of prednisone use. It is difficult to determine the etiology of this patient's acute myocardial infarction without coronary artery histopathology, but aspects of her presentation (a history of virulent systemic lupus erythematosus, and the angiographic findings of ectasia and aneurysm) suggest that coronary arteritis was the etiology of her accelerated coronary artery disease and subsequent myocardial infarction. Acute myocardial infarction is an uncommon occurrence in premenopausal women less than 30 years old.35 These patients are typically found to have an associated systemic disease such as diabetes mellitus or familial hypercholesterolemia. Systemic lupus erythematosus is a less common systemic disease associated with premature coronary artery disease. Mechanisms of acute coronary syndromes in these patients include accelerated atherosclerosis, active coronary vasculitis, and/or vasospasm with superimposed thrombosis.
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