• prognosis;
  • risk factor;
  • survival rate;
  • systemic lupus erythematosus


Aim:  To investigate the long-term prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and its risk factors.

Methods:  An 18-year (1980–1998) clustering follow-up study of 50 patients with SLE was performed.

Results:  The overall survival rate at 1, 5, 10, 15 and 18 years after the onset of illness was 98%, 98%, 84%, 76%, and 70%, respectively. The two major causes of death were infection and renal failure. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis showed that the presence of ≥ 7 of the American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE at diagnosis and vasculitis were associated with worse survival. Thirteen (26%) patients were in remission with complete discontinuation of drugs, with the mean remission duration being 12 years (range: 2–17 years).

Conclusion:  It is possible for patients with SLE to get long-term remission through timely and effective treatment. Prevention of infection and renal failure and reducing dosage of corticosteroids by combined treatment with immunosuppressive drugs may enhance prognosis and survival in SLE.