One in 700 women aged 20 to 65 and 1 in 245 American black women will be affected by systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), a chronic inflammatory disorder that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks organs and tissues (1-2). Lupus means “wolflike”, so named because symptoms of the autoimmune disease include an appearance of a rash over cheeks and the nose (1). Symptoms can also include mouth sores, joint pain, swelling around the lungs and heart, and kidney disease (2).
Diagnosis and Treatment
An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test makes it easy to diagnose lupus because almost every lupus patient tests positive (1). Other ways to diagnose are with complete blood count since lupus can commonly cause anemia, erythrocyte sedimintation due to inflammation, kidney and liver assesment, urinalysis that checks for protein and red blood cells in urine, chest X-ray to see inflammation, electrocariogram to identify irregular rhythms or damage in the heart, and a syphilis test because a false-positive result can indicate anti-phospholipid antibodies in the blood (3). Drugs such as NSAIDs, anti-malarial drugs and corticosteroids treat the inflammation itself (4). Other treatments and drugs can also be used for the symptoms (4). New treatments such as stem cell transplants, DHEA and Rituxan may be used in the future (4).
1. Nowak TJ, Hanfod AG. Pathophysiology: Concepts and applications for health care professionals, 3rd ed. 2004. New York, McGraw-Hill.
2. Mayo Clinic. Lupus: Definition. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115
3. Mayo Clinic. Lupus: Tests and Diagnosis. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115/DSECTION=tests%2Dand%2Ddiagnosis
4. Mayo clinic. Lupus: Treatment and Drugs. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lupus/DS00115/DSECTION=treatments%2Dand%2Ddrugs