Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that affects connective tissue. This means that body produces antibodies against its own cells. The disease is progressive and can cause a variety of complications.
Complications of the Blood
The patients suffering from lupus tend to develop problems with blood cells in almost 85% of all cases. Anemia is a common complication and it can be caused either by iron deficiency or by hemolytic destruction of red blood cells. Antibodies that are formed are responsible for changing of blood vessels and so called antiphospholipid syndrome. The structure of blood vessels becomes abnormal. All the blood cells can be affected so patients may end up with neutropenia or thrombocytopenia. As any other autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus increases the risk of malignant diseases such as lymphomas.
Complications of the Heart
Improper heart function is leading cause of death in people who are suffering from lupus. The heart muscle and arteries suffer from chronic inflammation. The deterioration of heart's function is even accelerated by progressive atherosclerosis severe stiffness of arteries as well as by increased cholesterol levels all of which is common for the disease.
Complications of the Lungs
Patients who are suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus tend to develop lung complications in almost 60% of all cases. These complications present in inflammation of pleura, excessive collection of fluid in pleura or the very inflammation of lung tissue. In extreme cases where lung blood vessels have been completely destroyed one may even end up with pulmonary hypertension.
Complications of Kidneys
Kidneys are most commonly affected organ in this disease. The function of these organs can be preserved up to a certain level. However majority of patients develop terminal renal failure.
Complications of Central Nervous System
Brain and spinal cord can be affected by the lupus antibodies. This complication mostly occurs during the very beginning of the disease when it is in its prime. The consequence is increased irritability, anxiety or depression. People who are suffering from lupus are more prone to migraines. All senses can be affected and even problems with memory occur.
Complications of Immune System
Patients are on the permanent immunosupression as this way the production of antibodies is reduced and the damage to the organs decreases. On the other hand immune system cannot function properly and these patients are more susceptible to infections.
Complications of Gastrointestinal Tract
These complications include loss of weight and sometimes nausea. Severe complications usually occurs due to intensive usage of corticosteroids which may lead to stomach ulcers.
Complications of Bones, Joints and Muscles
Systemic lupus erythematosus can lead to so called lupus arthritis, permanent demolition and deformation of joints. Weakness of muscles is also another complication. Osteoporosis develops as a consequence of corticosteroid therapy.