Initial disease severity, cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality among patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

Daniel Li, Kazuki Yoshida, Candace H Feldman, Cameron Speyer, Medha Barbhaiya, Hongshu Guan, Daniel H Solomon, Brendan M Everett, Karen H Costenbader
Rheumatology 2019 July 18

OBJECTIVE: SLE is associated with high risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality, and has a wide spectrum of presentations. We investigated whether SLE severity at diagnosis was associated with CVD or mortality risk.

METHODS: Within Medicaid (2000-10), we identified patients 18-65 years of age with incident SLE. Initial SLE severity was classified-mild, moderate, or severe-during the baseline year prior to the start of follow-up (incident index date) using a published algorithm based on SLE-related medications and diagnoses. Patients were followed from the index date to the first CVD event or death, disenrollment, loss to follow-up or end of follow-up period. Cox and Fine-Gray regression models, adjusted for demographics and comorbidities accounting for the competing risk of death (for CVD), estimated CVD and mortality risks by baseline SLE severity.

RESULTS: Of 15 120 incident SLE patients, 48.7% had mild initial SLE severity, 33.9% moderate and 17.4% severe. Mean (s.d.) follow-up was 3.3 (2.4) years. After multivariable adjustment, CVD subdistribution hazard ratios (HRSD) were higher for initially severe [HRSD 1.64 (95% CI 1.32, 2.04)] and moderate [HRSD 1.19 (95% CI 1.00, 1.41)] SLE vs mild SLE. Mortality HRs were also higher for initially severe [HR 3.11 (95% CI 2.49, 3.89)] and moderate [HR 1.61 (95% CI 1.29, 2.01)] SLE vs mild SLE.

CONCLUSION: SLE patients with high initial severity had elevated mortality and CVD events risks compared with those who presented with milder disease. This has implications for clinical care and risk stratification of newly diagnosed SLE patients.


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