Long-term survival in systemic lupus erythematosus patient characteristics associated with poorer outcomes


  • Michael M. Ward MD MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
    • Palo Alto VA Medical Center 111G, 3801 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304
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  • Elise Pyun MD,

    1. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
    Current affiliation:
    1. Medical Service, Brockton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Brockton, Massachusetts
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  • Stephanie Studenski MD MPH

    1. University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
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Objective. To investigate the associations of age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status with long-term survival in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods. We examined survival in an inception cohort of 408 patients with SLE. The cohort included 177 black females, 162 white females, 49 white males, and 20 black males. The median duration of followup was 11 years (range 0.1-22 years).

Results. One hundred forty-four patients died during the study. The 5-, 10-, and 15-year survival estimates for the entire cohort were 82%, 71%, and 63%, respectively. In univariate analyses, mortality rates increased with age and were higher among males, blacks, those without private medical insurance, and those living in census tracts with lower household incomes. In multivariate analyses, age, sex, and both socioeconomic indicators were associated with total mortality (mortality from any cause), while race was not. Lower socioeconomic status and increased age were also associated with higher rates of death from SLE.

Conclusion. Socioeconomic status, but not race, is associated with mortality in SLE. SLE-related mortality also tends to increase with age, which suggests that SLE may not be less severe when it occurs later in life.