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Lupus Death Rates Highest Among Native Americans and Blacks

Blacks also more likely to have lupus-induced kidney inflammation

Lupus, the autoimmune disease that causes joint and organ damage, kills more Native Americans and blacks than other racial and ethnic groups, a new study finds. Asian and Hispanic lupus patients have the lowest death rates.

“While previous research has examined racial differences among lupus patients, the studies have primarily been based at academic research centers,” said study author Jose Gomez-Puerta, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Our study investigates the variation in death rates due to lupus among different ethnic groups in a general clinical setting.”

Researchers analyzed Medicaid claims for more than 42,200 lupus patients, aged 18 to 65, between 2000 and 2006. Nearly 8,200 of those patients had kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis) caused by the disease. By race and ethnicity, the percentages of patients with lupus or lupus nephritis were: black, 40 percent; white, 38 percent; Hispanic, 15 percent; Asian, 5 percent; and Native American, 2 percent. But the study found the annual death rate was highest among Native Americans, blacks and whites, in that order. Hispanic and Asian lupus patients had the lowest death rates.

“In less than three years of follow-up of Medicaid patients with lupus, we found a great disparity in mortality rates among ethnic groups,” Dr. 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.”

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