Background Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been reported to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, most studies have been criticized for either a small sample size or the lack of a prospective control. Our study investigated the relationship of SLE and the subsequent development of ischemic stroke using a nationwide, population-based database in an Asian population. Methods From 2000 to 2007, we identified a study cohort consisting of a total of 11,637 newly diagnosed SLE patients using the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. A control cohort of 58,185 subjects without SLE, matched for age, gender, and comorbidities were selected for comparison to observe the occurrence of ischemic stroke in these two groups. Results During a follow-up period of up to 7 years, ischemic stroke developed in 258 (2.22%) of the patients with SLE and in 873 (1.5%) of patients in the comparison cohort. Kaplan-Meier analysis also revealed a tendency of SLE patients toward ischemic stroke development (log rank test, p = 0.001). After Cox model adjustment for patients' demographic characteristics and selected comorbidities, patients with SLE were found to have a 1.67-fold (95% CI, 1.45 to 1.91) higher risk of developing ischemic stroke. Conclusion Patients with SLE have an increased risk of stroke.
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