Lupus Patients in US, Especially Women, Die at Younger Ages, Study Reports

Lupus Patients in US, Especially Women, Die at Younger Ages, Study Reports

Women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the U.S. live on average 22 years less — and men an average of 12 fewer years — than members of the same sex among the public at large, according to new data from Stanford University.

Leading causes of death for female SLE patients were septicemia (blood infections or blood poisoning) and hypertension, while male patients more often died of complications of heart disease and diabetes.

The study, “Impact of Sex on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus-Related Causes of Premature Mortality in the United States,” was published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease associated with lesser life expectancy, but little is known about the causes of death associated with the disease, specially through a sex-based lens.

“This study examines the sex-based differences in the causes of death among women and men with SLE in the U.S. and identifies clinically relevant comorbidities, such as infectious diseases, that are more likely to contribute to premature death in this population,” Susan G. Kornstein, MD, editor-in-chief of Journal of Women’s Health, and executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, said in a press release.

Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine investigated these causes among lupus patients using the 2014 national death certificate database, which includes 2.7 million death records in the U.S.

Among the 2,036 lupus patients in the database, 86.2 percent were women. While the median age at death for women in the general population was 81 years, it was 59 for those with lupus, a median difference of 22 years.

In men that difference was lesser. Male patients with lupus lived a median of 61 years, and those in the public at large to age 73, a median 12-year difference.

While septicemia and hypertension were the leading causes of death in women with SLE in general, those age 50 or younger were most likely to die of  chronic renal failure and coagulation and hemorrhagic disorders. Among U.S. women without SLE, leading causes of death were dementias and acute cerebrovascular disease.

Among men in the general population, main causes of death were injury or poisoning,  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementias, and heart disease and diabetes in those with SLE. Among male SLE patients age 50 or younger, blood disorders (coagulation and hemorrhagic disorders) and chronic renal failure were top causes of earlier death.

Overall, “our findings reinforce the urgent need for interventions that reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with SLE to improve health outcomes and ultimately reduce health disparities,” the researchers wrote.

“These results identified clinically relevant comorbidities that need to be considered more carefully in the course of patients’ clinical management and the natural history of SLE disease, elucidating future targets for the investigation of sex based differences,” they added.


  1. Lori A Pope says:

    How were these patients managing their lupus? With drugs? How do you know the deaths aren’t caused by the toxic drugs?

    I manage my SLE completely with nutrition and am flare free. I gotta believe that these stats are for patients who were managed with drugs, or died at the onset/early diagnosis stage.

  2. Lori A Pope says:

    okay, so I was right. The study says “These clinical manifestations may also
    be induced by SLE-related drug therapies, for example, antimalarial
    and immunosuppressive drugs.” and “we cannot differentiate between causes of
    death that are related to the natural age process, disease activity,
    and drug therapy”

    Wake up people and start managing your disease with a good nutritionist/ naturopath!

  3. Katie Fitzgerald says:

    I plan on living well past 59. Wake up everyone. Get off the prescription pills and start doing some really hard work. Go vegan, meditate, pray, do yoga, go for walks. Get enough rest. Go to therapy, get rid of your stress. Put yourself first. I spent two years on high doses of steroids, benlysta, imuran, painkillers…..never felt sicker. Now just on plaquenil and in a mission to come off it when my new lifestyle is totally in control of lupus.

    • Stephany says:

      So i used to be vegetarian until i got really sick…. I don’t think this is good for every one because our bodies don’t absorb nutrients too well…can you give me some more guidance on making a switch without getting sick from it

    • Laura Morrison says:

      LOL meditate, do yoga, go vegan……Tell that to someone who is dying…..someone who has never taken any “prescription pills” in their life. Don’t be so ridiculous!

  4. Lori A Pope says:

    After two major hospitalizations,constant steroid use and the start of chemotherapy (which scared the hell out of me), I healed myself by following Ann Boroch’s anti-candida protocol. It’s documented in her books. Work hard to educate yourself – I find they are all saying the same “basic” thing. No Gluten, Dairy, Sugar, Corn, Soy. Ann Boroch is stricter than that as she limits fruit, no honey or other sweeteners, use of anti fungals and probiotics because the healing is based on eliminating yeast overgrowth and building the right ecology in our gut. Having lived through this, I firmly believe our body has an innate sense to heal itself when given the environment and mindset to do so. It’s a journey of the mind, body and spirit. For some people they see huge changes in just 2 weeks. For me, I saw incremental improvements each month. It was a long journey of 9 months to get my brain and energy back, but it WORKED. I’ve been drug free and flare free for over two years now. I highly recommend you reading Ann’s books AND find a good nutritionist/naturopath local to you. Also, if you haven’t already, watch the Betrayal documentary series. It’s another great education. It’s not an easy journey to undo years of corrupting our body, but it is so worth it when you come up on the other side!

  5. Dr. Tracy Kritz says:

    I’m a physician and I have lupus. I have just read the above remarks about finding a good nutritionist and going vegan and anti-candida and it makes me wanna pull my hair out. I’ve always practiced evidence-based medicine and now that I am sick with lupus I’m trying to practice and evidence-based life. Telling someone who is critically ill to essentially, buck up, get off the meds, pray go vegan, and so on it’s a punch in the face. It’s a kin to telling someone with cancer to stop proven treatment and just pray. It’s telling someone who sick that it’s their fault essentially because they haven’t lived correctly. Before I was diagnosed I ate properly exercised and practice yoga and meditation. I was a committed vegetarian. Then I became ill despite all of my “good“ behavior. My genetics and One of the many viral illnesses I was exposed to in my job, probably Epstein bar virus, set off a cascade of events that made me incredibly ill. There is no evidence-based research to support what you are claiming. If a vegan lifestyle and chanting have cured your lupus that’s fantastic but don’t shove your reality on to me. Those things have not cured my lupus, they have not made a dent in my lupus. Period. Do you know what finally did? Medications. And those medications, and believe me I did do the research before I took them, have been studied and have real evidence-based medical data to support them and their use, and their efficacy. I suspect That the true reason lupus patients are dying in this country an earlier age is due to the decline in the quality of medical care and the access to decent medical treatment along with cardiovascular disease which is due to diabetes and hypertension. These diseases are accelerated in lupus patients because of the medications we have to take to keep us alive. If I were not taking Benlysta, CellCept, and plaquenil I don’t think I’d ever get out of bed and I would still be spending the majority of my time hospitalized. These medications have side effects and risks and those risks include accelerated cardiovascular disease and diabetes which as I mentioned above cause early death. So, there is a place for nutrition absolutely and there’s a place for exercise and there’s a place for yoga and there’s a place for prayer but watch how you treat your fellow man. Don’t shove your opinion down my throat or anyone else’s. You don’t live in anyone else’s skin and neither do I and so I don’t have the right to judge what you decide to do and what works for you. What I resent and what I abhor are people who attempt to push a lifestyle on me as a substitute for my medications while judging me for taking them. There’s something in the Bible about that… judge not, lest thy be judged? I’d ask you to keep your judgements to yourself please. Share your story so others can learn what has worked for you but never judge what another person has to do to stay alive.

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