Using technology to predict risk of heart disease for people with lupus


Scientific Study title:

SLE-CALCULATOR: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus CArdiovascuLar Disease Event Risk PrediCtion Using Machine LeArning Techniques and NOvel ThRombotic Autoantibodies


Principal Investigator:

May Y. Choi – MD, FRCPC
Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada
Rheumatology Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Gary S. Gilkeson
Lupus Fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital


Why do this research?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart disease and stroke, is the most common cause of death in people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The reason for a higher risk of CVD in people with lupus is unknown. Researchers think it could be due to inflammation from the disease and/or the medication used to treat it. An accurate way to measure this risk is needed to identify lupus patients who may benefit from CVD prevention.


What will be done?

The goal of this study is to improve methods on how to identify risks for heart disease and stroke early in the life of people with lupus. We will use a SLE-CALCULATOR, to develop and test a risk prediction tool for heart disease and stroke in people with lupus using an advanced method called machine learning. Machine learning teaches computers to learn information from data using statistics. The tool will use large amounts of data on CVD and lupus risk factors along with testing for risk of blood clotting. The tool will be available online for doctors and patients to use.


Who is involved? 

We will be using information and blood samples from the Systemic Lupus International Collaboration Clinics (SLICC) group of patients to build our risk prediction calculator. The SLICC group includes 1,835 patients newly diagnosed with lupus from 16 countries around the world. Patients visit a center once a year, to update their symptoms, medications, health information, and have their blood taken.

Data from a second group of lupus patients, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Lupus cohort, will be used to check the risk prediction calculator for accuracy.

We are consulting with stakeholders to develop a patient education document.  The first round of feedback included a webinar discussion and written feedback from representatives from multiple patient support organizations, including Lupus Ontario, CanVECTOR, and Lupus Canada.


Who is on the research team?



Ann Clarke – MD, MSc, FRCPC
Senior Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada
Professor, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Karen H. Costenbader – MD, MPH
Rheumatologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Susan Elliot – PhD
Professor, Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Leslie Skeith – MD
Associate Professor, Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies
Department of Medicine, Department of Oncology, Department of Community Health Sciences
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta


Have questions about this research?

Please feel free to contact us at info@arthritisresearch.ca.  


Funding Agency:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research