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Abstract

Objective

To investigate whether comorbidity as assessed by the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) is associated with mortality in a long-term followup of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.

Methods

Data were collected from 499 SLE patients attending the Lupus Clinic at the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and 170 SLE patients from the Department of Rheumatology at Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden. This included data on comorbidity, demographics, disease activity, the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SDI), and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS). Variables were entered into a Cox proportional hazards survival model.

Results

Mortality risk in the Montreal cohort was associated with the CCI (hazard ratio [HR] 1.57 per unit increase in the CCI, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.18–2.09) and age (HR 1.04 per year increase in age, 95% CI 1.00–1.09). The CCI and age at diagnosis were also associated with mortality in the Lund cohort (CCI: HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.13–1.60; age: HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.05–1.12). Furthermore, the SDI was associated with mortality in the Lund cohort (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.19–1.64), while a wide CI for the estimate in the Montreal cohort prevented a definitive conclusion (HR 1.20, 95% CI 0.97–1.48). We did not find a strong association between mortality and sex, race/ethnicity, disease activity, or APS in either cohort.

Conclusion

In this study, comorbidity as measured by the CCI was associated with decreased survival independent of age, lupus disease activity, and damage. This suggests that the CCI may be useful in capturing comorbidity for clinical research in SLE.