Aims This study aimed to assess all-cause and cause-specific standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Methods We surveyed studies examining all-cause and/or cause-specific SMR in patients with SLE compared to the general population using PUBMED, EMBASE and Cochrane databases and manual searches. We performed a meta-analysis of all-cause, sex-specific, ethnicity-specific, and cause-specific SMRs in SLE patients. Results Fifteen reports including 26,101 patients with SLE with 4640 deaths met the inclusion criteria. Compared to the general population, all-cause SMR was significantly increased 2.6-fold in patients with SLE (SMR 2.663, 95% CI 2.090-3.393, p < 1.0 × 10-8). Stratification by ethnicity showed that all-cause SMR was 2.721 (95% CI 1.867-3.966, p = 1.9 × 10-6) in Caucasians and 2.587 (95% CI 1.475-4.535, p = 0.001) in Asians. Sex-specific meta-analysis revealed that all-cause SMR was 3.141 (95% CI 2.351-4.198, p < 1.0 × 10-8) for women and 3.516 (95% CI 2.928-4.221, p < 1.0 × 10-8) for men. The risk of mortality was significantly increased for mortality due to renal disease (SMR 4.689, 95% CI 2.357-9.330, p = 1.10 × 10-5), cardiovascular disease (CVD) (SMR 2.253, 95% CI 1.304-3.892, p = 0.004), and infection (SMR 4.980, 95% CI 3.876-6.398, p < 1.0 × 10-8), although there was no significant increase in SMR for mortality due to cancer (SMR 1.163, 95% CI 0.572-2.363, p = 0.676). Conclusions Patients with SLE had higher rates of death from all causes, regardless of sex, ethnicity, renal disease, CVD or infection. However, the risk of death due to malignancy was not increased.
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