Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack and inflame otherwise healthy tissues and organs. The heart is among the organs that can be damaged by this disease and heart disease is a primary cause of death among those with lupus. Lupus can cause inflammation of the heart and the tissues and support structure surrounding it. Additionally, those with lupus are at greater risk of developing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). In fact, people with lupus develop atherosclerosis at a higher rate and much sooner than their peers who do not have lupus. To reduce the risk of heart disease, people with lupus need to maintain normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels, and exercise regularly.