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Infection: a Leading Cause of Death in Lupus

 Analysis of a national database of hospital discharges from Spain shows that infections accounted for 25% of lupus deaths, making infection the most common cause of death in SLE.

Study identified SLE patients from the Spanish Hospital Discharge Database and recorded the frequency of infection-related deaths between 2016 and 2018. From a total of 18 430 SLE hospital admissions they identified that the reason for hospitalization was primarily disease activity (19%) and suspected infection (15%).

The cause of death in these hospitalized patients was attributed to infection in 25%, but only 6% were due to SLE activity (p<0.001).

The general population risk of Infection related death in Spain was 8%. This risk was substantially higher in SLE, especially younger SLE patients were the risk of infection related death was much higher than SLE patient over age 40 years.

  • Age < 20 yrs old (40% vs 3%; p<0.01)
  • Ages 20-39  (33% vs 4%; p<0.001)
  • Ages 40-59 (23% vs 5%; p<0.001)
  • Ages 60-79 (26% vs 5%; p<0.001)
  • Ages > 80 (25% vs 9%;p<0.001).

Hospitalizable infection is the leading cause of death in SLE in Spain, especially in younger lupus patients.


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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject