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Dedicated to increasing awareness about
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), disease activity and related organ damage


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, multisystem autoimmune disorder that can affect nearly every major organ system, causing inflammation, tissue injury, organ damage, and, ultimately, organ dysfunction.1 Severity of the disease can vary from mild to potentially fatal. The course of the disease over the patient's life is also highly variable.1 Organ damage, which can be occurring even when patients are without obvious symptoms, is the key factor in morbidity and mortality.1

Learn more about this complex, challenging condition.

SLE is characterized by the pathologic production of antibodies directed against self-antigens.2 Multiple factors result in the systemic immune dysregulation leading to SLE. Environmental triggers, multiple genetic polymorphisms, ultraviolet light, and sex hormone interactions are all thought to have major roles.3,4

In the United States, there are 170,000 to 200,000 adults affected with SLE.5,6

Nine out of 10 cases occur in women. Most of these women are between the ages of 15 and 45.7 Of those diagnosed with SLE, younger patients have a greater risk of poor clinical outcomes.8

SLE is more common — 2 to 4 times more frequent and more severe — among non-white populations.9,10 Regardless of age or gender, Hispanic, African American and Asian patients with SLE tend to experience greater disease activity and faster accrual of organ damage including hematological, serosal, neurological, and renal organ damage.10

For patients with SLE, hospitalizations are common — approximately 20% to 25% of SLE patients are hospitalized annually11,12 — and 1 in 6 patients are readmitted within 30 days.13

Learn more about SLE and the damage it may cause.


Hospitalization rates* for serious infections in SLE patients were as much as 24 times higher than in the general public.14


Retrospective analysis using data of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from 1996-2011.


This slide deck discusses the path to diagnosis of SLE, pathogenesis of the disease, impact on patients, and how to best support patients.

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What Next?

Even with low disease activity, organ damage may still occur in patients with SLE.15

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1. American College of Rheumatology Ad Hoc Committee on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Guidelines. Guidelines for referral and management of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. Arthritis Rheum. 1999;42(9):1785-1796. Accessed February 14, 2017. 2. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. Lupus: A Patient Care Guide for Nurses and Other Health Professionals. 3rd ed. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; 2006. NIH publication 06-4262. 3. Stockl A. Complex syndromes, ambivalent diagnosis, and existential uncertainty: The case of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Soc Sci Med. 2007;65(7):1549-1559. Accessed February 14, 2017. 4. Bertsias G, Cervera R, Boumpas DT. Systemic lupus erythematosus: pathogenesis and clinical features. In: EULAR Textbook on Rheumatic Diseases. 476-505.
20_mod%2017.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2017. 5. Somers EC, Marder W, Cagnoli P, et al. Population-based incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus: the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance program. Arthritis Rheum. 2014;66(2):369-378. Accessed February 14, 2017. 6. Lim SS, Bayakly AR, Helmick CG, et al. The incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus, 2002–2004: the Georgia Lupus Registry. Arthritis Rheum. 2014;66(2):357-368. Accessed February 14, 2017. 7. Howard CH, Mayhew SL. The pharmacist's role in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. US Pharm. 2006;5:39-48. Accessed February 14, 2017. 8. Tucker LB, Uribe AG, Fernandez M, et al. Adolescent onset of lupus results in more aggressive disease and worse outcomes: results of a nested matched case-control study within LUMINA, a multiethnic US cohort (LUMINA LVII). Lupus. 2008;17(4):314-322. Accessed February 14, 2017. 9. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services. What Is Lupus? Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; 2009. 10. Pons-Estel GJ, Alarcón GS, Scofield L, et al. Understanding the epidemiology and progression of systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2010;39(4):257. Accessed February 14, 2017. 11. Bernatsky S, Boivin JF, Joseph L, et al. Mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum. 2006;54(8):2550-2557. Accessed February 14, 2017. 12. Panopalis P, Yazdany J, Gillis JZ, et al. Health care costs and costs associated with changes in work productivity among persons with systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;59(12):1788-95. Accessed February 14, 2017. 13. Yazdany J, Marafino BJ, Dean ML, et al. Thirty-day hospital readmissions in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum. 2014;66(10):2828-2836. Accessed February 14, 2017. 14. Tektonidou MG, Wang Z, Ward MM. Burden of Serious Infections in Adults With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A National Population-Based Study, 1996-2011. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2015;67(8):1078-85. Accessed February 14, 2017. 15. Urowitz MB, Gladman DD, Ibañez D, et al. Evolution of disease burden over five years in a multicenter inception systemic lupus erythematosus cohort. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2012;64(1):132-7. Accessed February 14, 2017.