Objective: Most information available about the disease course of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is restricted to the first 5 yr after disease onset. Data about the disease course 10 yr after disease onset are rare. The aim of this multicentre study was to describe the outcome of SLE patients with a disease duration of >10 yr.
Methods: Outcome parameters were the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), the European Consensus Lupus Activity Measure (ECLAM), the Systemic Lupus International Collaborative Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SLICC/ACR), a global damage index (DI) and required treatment. In 10 different European rheumatology centres, all SLE patients who were evaluated in the last 3 months of 1994, and who had been diagnosed with SLE at least 10 yr ago, were included in the study.
Results: It should be stressed that our results are confined to a patient cohort, defined by a disease duration of at least 10 yr, and who are still under clinical care at the different centres in Europe. These SLE patients still showed some disease activity, related to symptoms of the skin and musculoskeletal systems, next to the presence of renal involvement. A total of 72% of the patients needed treatment with prednisolone (</=7.5 mg). The cumulative damage was overall related to clinical features of the central nervous system (14%) and renal involvement (14%), next to deforming arthritis (14%), osteoporosis (15%) and hypertension (40%). The prevalences of obesity, Cushing appearance and diabetes are highly suggestive that the ongoing treatment and that in the past might have had an impact on the total sum of end-organ damage.
Conclusions: After 10 yr, a high proportion of patients in our cohort continued to show evidence of active disease, defined by the SLEDAI as well as ECLAM. The DI was related to the involvement of the central nervous system, renal involvement and the presence of hypertension.