Introduction: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is prevalent among young female adults, particularly in Asia. In Taiwan, features of end-of-life SLE patients remain unclear. Material and methods: Data regarding SLE patients whose hospitalization ended up with death were collected and analyzed from the repository of the National Health Insurance Research Database, Taiwan, from 2005 to 2007. Results: A total of 302 subjects were enrolled and the majority of these were young to middle-aged women (45.8 ±18.5 years); only one third of them were treated by rheumatologists. Eight patients (2.6%) with comorbid cancers received hospice care. Sepsis/bacteremia (42.1%) was the major acute comorbidity. Nephropathy/nephritis (35.1%) represented the major chronic comorbidity. Among 27 subjects with comorbid cancers, gynecological cancers were the most common (18%). Among the inpatient costs, the cost of prescriptions accounted for the majority (21.7 ±11.5%). Under a multivariate logistic regression, advanced age (≥ 65 years) correlated positively with acute lower respiratory conditions (ALRC) and diabetes mellitus (DM), and male gender correlated negatively with nephropathy/nephritis. The nephropathy/nephritis correlated positively with hospital stays > 14 days. The ALRC was closely associated with acute respiratory failure, but not with shock. However, shock was closely associated with hospital stays ≤ 14 days and sepsis/bacteremia. Cancer development was inversely correlated to nephropathy/nephritis, acute respiratory failure, and shock (all p <0.05). Conclusions: The end-of-life SLE patients revealed aforementioned characteristics and relationships. Sepsis/bacteremia, acute respiratory failure, and ALRC contributed most frequently to the ultimate death of acutely ill SLE patients.
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