During 1979-1998, the annual number of deaths from lupus rose from 879 to 1,406 and the crude death rate increased from 39 to 52 per million population, with a total of 22,861 deaths reported during this 20?year period.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease of connective tissue that can affect several organs. The cause of SLE is unknown. SLE accounts for 14.5% of all deaths from the more than 100 types of arthritis and can cause premature death. Approximately one third of deaths occur among men and women younger than 45.
CDC analysis of deaths from SLE between 1979 and 1998 found marked differences by age, sex, and race.
Between 1979 and 1998, death rates from SLE increased nearly 70% among black women between the ages of 45 and 64 years. Possible reasons include an increasing incidence of SLE, later diagnosis, less access to health care, less-effective treatments, and poorer compliance with treatment recommendations.
Of all SLE deaths, 36.4% occurred among persons between 15 and 44 years. Death rates increased with age.
Each year during the study period, death rates were more than 5 times higher for women than for men and more than 3 times higher for blacks than for whites.
Deaths may be caused by active SLE or organ failure, infection, or heart disease related to accelerated hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Keys to preventing future deaths from SLE will require earlier recognition and diagnosis, appropriate therapeutic management, compliance with recommended treatment, and improved treatment of long-term consequences, such as accelerated hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
CDC, working with state health departments, is developing plans for state-based registry of people with SLE to monitor trends and better characterize people who have the disease.
For the full text of the CDC report, visit http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr
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