Ethnicity a Factor in Lupus Mortality Rates

According to the results of a recent study, ethnicity may play a large role in the mortality rate of patients with lupus

According to the results of a recent study, ethnicity may play a large role in the mortality rate of patients with lupus.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported that Asian and Hispanic patients with systemic lupus erythematosus had lower mortality rates than patients with other ethnic backgrounds.

According to a press release that accompanied publication of the findings in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, the researchers analyzed mortality rates in Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and Native American lupus patients.

Looking closer at the data, the authors also determined that the mortality rate for white lupus patients was lower than that for African American and Native American patients. The authors noted that there has already been research done to show that in the United States the ratio of patients contracting lupus is higher for non-whites, and that the “incidence of lupus is as much as 4 times higher in black compared to white females.”

“While previous research has examined racial differences among lupus patients, the studies have primarily been based at academic research centers,” noted Jose A. Gomez-Puerta, MD. “Our study investigates the variation in death rates due to lupus among different ethnic groups in a general clinical setting.”

The authors evaluated Medicaid claims from 47 states as well as the District of Columbia from 2000 until 2006. Lupus patients between the ages of 18 and 65 were identified “who were enrolled for 3 or more months and had 3 or more claims of lupus.”

Out of the 42,221 patients, 8,191 were identified as having lupus nephritis. 40% of the patients identified were black, 38% were white, 15% were Hispanic, 5% were Asian, and 2% were Native American. Looking at mortality rate per 1000 person-years, Native Americans had the highest ratio at 27.52, slightly higher than the 24.13 of African Americans, and 20.17 for Caucasians.

“In less than 3-years of follow-up of Medicaid patients with lupus we found a great disparity in mortality rates among ethnic groups,” Gomez-Puerta said. “Understanding the variation of death among the races is important to determine how best to treat individual patients, modify risk factors, and ultimately improve survival for those with lupus.”