The Hidden Toll of Lupus in Young Women

April 23, 2018

Researchers analyzed mortality statistics from the CDC to determine the relative burden of SLE-related deaths among women.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes significant morbidity and mortality, but the extent of its toll has long been unrecognized.

Eric Yen, MD, and Ram Raj Singh, MD, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA, looked at mortality statistics from the CDC to determine the relative burden of SLE-related deaths among women. (The agency compiles an annual leading-causes-of-death ranking based on a selected list of 113 causes, but SLE is not included on this list.) The researchers published their report in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

From 2000 to 2015, there were 28,411 female deaths in the US that had SLE recorded as the underlying or contributing cause of death. Overall, SLE ranked as:
• The 10th leading cause of death in the 15- to 24-year age group
• 14th in 25- to 34-year and 35- to 44-year age groups
• 15th in 10- to 14-year age group

After three common external injury causes of death (unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide) were excluded from the analysis, SLE ranked among black and Hispanic females as:
• The 5th leading cause of death in the 15- to 24-year age group
• 6th in the 25- to 34-year age group
• 8th to 9th in the 35- to 44-year age group

References:

Lupus treatment generates positive results in phase III clinical trial [press release]. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; April 20, 2018.

Yen EY, Singh RR. Lupus – an unrecognized leading cause of death in young women: population-based study using nationwide death certificates, 2000-2015.Arthritis Rheum. Published online: April 19, 2018. DOI: 10.1002/art.40512.