Background Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) present greater severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to the general population. High disease activity and some immunosuppressants have been associated with worse outcomes. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with SLE in Argentina from the SAR-COVID registry and to establish factors associated with a worse outcome.
Methods Observational study. Patients diagnosed with SLE with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (RT-PCR and/or positive serology) from the SAR-COVID registry were included. Data was collected from August 2020 to March 2022. The outcome of the infection was measured using the World Health Organization – ordinal scale (WHO-OS). Severe COVID-19 was defined as an WHO-OS value ≥5. Descriptive analysis, Student’s T test, Mann Whitney U, ANOVA, Chi2 and Fisher. Multiple logistic regression.
Results A total of 399 patients were included, 93% female, with a mean age of 40.9 years (SD 12.2), 39.6% had at least one comorbidity. At the time of infection, 54.9% were receiving glucocorticoids, 30.8% immunosuppressants, and 3.3% biological agents. SARS-CoV-2 infection was mild in most cases, while 4.6% had a severe course and/or died. The latter had comorbidities, used glucocorticoids and had antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) more frequently and higher disease activity at the time of infection. In the multivariate analysis, high blood pressure (OR 5.1, 95%CI 1.8–15.0), the diagnosis of APS (4.7, 95%CI 1.2–15.8), and the use of glucocorticoids (10 mg/day or more: OR 5.5, 95%CI 1.6–20.5) were associated with severe hospitalization and/or death from COVID-19 (WHO-EO≥5).
Conclusions In this cohort of SLE patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, most had a symptomatic course, 22.1% were hospitalized, and 5% required mechanical ventilation. Mortality was close to 3%. The diagnosis of APS, having high blood pressure, and the use of glucocorticoids were significantly associated with severe COVID-19.
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