SLE Patients Have Higher Mortality Rates Than Those Without Disease, British Study Reveals

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by Kara Elam |

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A recently released study in the journal Rheumatology titled “Mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus in the United Kingdom 1999-2012,” shows higher mortality rates among people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) compared to those without the disease.

The study, led by senior researcher Dr. Weiya Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, estimated the mortality rates of individuals with SLE by their age, gender, and the region of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2012, to understand the differences in causes of death associated with the disease.

The researchers used Britain’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink to obtain the incidence rates of SLE, then matched these cases to control cases by age, gender, and clinical practice location to compare mortality rates.

After analyzing the data, the findings provided evidence for the following conclusions:

  • Individuals with SLE have a 67 percent higher mortality rate than age- and gender-matched controls;
  • Men with SLE had higher rates of mortality than females with SLE;
  • Young people with SLE have the greatest relative risk of death;
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and malignancy were the leading causes of death among people with SLE;
  • There were no differences in mortality rates by region.

It is important to remember that the findings are for the specific population and may not be translated into other populations throughout the globe, such as the U.S., although these findings do add to the literature showing distinct differences in mortality rates for individuals with SLE.

In a concluding statement the authors wrote, “People with SLE have higher death rates than people without SLE. Young people with SLE are at the greatest relative risk of death compared with people of the same age. CVD and malignancy are now the leading causes of death for people with SLE. Ongoing research is required in order to understand the mechanisms behind the increased mortality in SLE and to find solutions to reduce mortality to the level expected in the general population.”