Research shows persisting mortality gap between systemic lupus erythematosus patients and the general population

July 6, 2021 (Vancouver) – A new study has revealed that the risk of premature mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients compared to the general population has not improved in recent years.

Scientists examined two time periods, 1997-2005 and 2006-2014, and observed a 95 per cent and 74 per cent increased risk of overall deaths due to SLE relative to the general population in each time period, respectively. Therefore, there was no significant improvement between the two time periods.

Scientists observed similar excess mortality due to kidney disease, infections and cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in the legs and lungs) during these time periods. Deaths caused by these complications were also highest in the first year after initial diagnosis. However, there was no excess mortality from cancer in either period.

“Mortality rates for systemic lupus erythematosus patients are not improving over time and this is concerning,” said Dr. Antonio Aviña-Zubieta, a rheumatologist and senior scientist at Arthritis Research Canada. “Previous research showed improvements in mortality from the 1970s to 2000s but these recent findings highlight a need for further interventions in managing this disease.”

Aviña-Zubieta added that such interventions could include the development of new therapeutic agents, strategies for earlier disease detection and more comprehensive measures in the management of serious, life-threatening complications.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with significant premature mortality caused by kidney disease, infections and cardiovascular disease.

Want to learn more about this important research? Click here to read the full research paper.


– 30 –



Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Heather Caulder

Marketing and Communications Officer

604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca


Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!