Systemic lupus erythematosus in Pakistan

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Clinical features of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been described from different geographical regions in the world, with some clinical differences among different racial groups. Although data on the characteristics of SLE in Pakistan is scarce, it is not uncommon in the South East Asian region. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to delineate the clinical pattern and disease course in Pakistani patients with SLE and to compare it with international data on lupus patients. A total of 196 patients with SLE fulfilling the clinical and laboratory criteria of the American Rheumatism Association admitted to the hospital between 1986 and 2001 were studied by means of a retrospective review of their records. Demographically, it was seen that SLE is a disease predominantly of females in their third decade, which is consistent with worldwide data. The mean age of presentation was 31 years (range 14-76) and the mean duration of follow up was 34 (4-179) months. Generally, there was less cutaneous (46%), arthritic (38%), serositis (22%) and renal involvement (33%) but more neuropsychiatric symptoms (26%) in our population. Eighty-six percent of patients were ANA positive, whereas anti dsDNA was positive in 74% of patients. Infections, renal involvement, seizures and thrombocytopenia were associated with poor prognosis (P < 0.05). This study is the first of its kind in Pakistan. The clinical and laboratory characteristics of SLE patients in our study place our population in the middle of a spectrum between the Caucasians and other Asian populations. It has shown that the clinical characteristics of SLE patients in this country may be different to those of its neighbors.