Lupus Mortality Rates May Be Influenced by Patient Ethnicity, According to Study

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Lupus and cardiovascular health

shutterstock_244080922Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, discovered that systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has lower mortality rates in Asian and Hispanic patients when compared to Black, White or Native American patients.

The study entitled “Racial/Ethnic Variation in All-Cause Mortality among U.S. Medicaid Recipients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: An Hispanic and Asian Paradox” was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.

“While previous research has examined racial differences among lupus patients, the studies have primarily been based at academic research centers,” said Dr. José Gómez-Puerta, the lead author of the study. “Our study investigates the variation in death rates due to lupus among different ethnic groups in a general clinical setting.”

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system overreacts and attacks healthy joints and organs of the individual. Prior research has found that lupus cases are considerably higher among the non-caucasian populations in the U.S. Lupus incidence was in fact estimated to be four times higher in African-American females in comparison with White females. Interestingly, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian SLE patients were reported to have higher rates of lupus nephritis, end-stage renal disease and damage of organs.

In this new study, Medicaid claims filed between 2000 and 2006 in several U.S. states were analyzed and individuals with reported claims for lupus and lupus nephritis, aged between 18 and 65, were identified. The results of this analysis showed that the annual mortality rate for individuals with lupus per 1,000 person-years was actually higher in Native Americans (27.52), followed by African-Americans (24.13) and caucasians (20.17) in comparison with Hispanic (7.12) and Asians (5.18). After accounting for demographic and clinical factors, the team concluded that Hispanic and Asian SLE patients had indeed a lower mortality risk than Blacks, Whites or Native Americans.

“In less than three years of follow-up of Medicaid patients with lupus we found a great disparity in mortality rates among ethnic groups” said Dr. Gómez-Puerta, who also explained why this study is relevant “Understanding the variation of death among the races is important to determine how best to treat individual patients, modify risk factors, and ultimately improve survival for those with lupus.”