Purpose: To review epidemiological and clinical aspects of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Martinique, French West Indies.
Methods: Cases of SLE were identified by attending physicians. Patients who presented with at least four of the criteria defined by the American College of Rheumatology were included. Determination of incidence and prevalence included the new cases arising during the 1990-1999 period and 1999 population census results. Probability of survival was based on the use of the Kaplan-Meier estimator.
Results: Two hundred and eighty-six patients were studied, including 265 females (92.7%). The average annual incidence was 4.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.5-6.9). The prevalence for 1999 was 64.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (CI: 56.2-72.2). The mean age at onset was 30 years. Eleven percent of all patients had at least one parent with SLE. Renal disease was present in 139 patients (48.6%), and neurological disorders were diagnosed in 70 patients (24.5%). Patients tested positive for the following antibodies: anti-Sm (37.1%), anti-RNP (58.7%), anti-SSA (47.2%). Mean survival time was: 96.4% (CI: 94.1-98.7) at 5 years, 91.8% (CI: 87.9-95.7) at 10 years. Survival was significantly reduced in patients with end-stage renal disease (n = 40, chi 2 = 6.96, P < 0.01).
Conclusion: The high incidence of SLE in Martinique and the immunological characteristics of patients were found to be similar to those described in other populations of African descent. The frequency of renal disease and survival rates were identical to those reported in Caucasians.