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Lupus Disease - Overview

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease and it may affect any part of the body. The disease leads to inflammation of the affected tissues and subsequent damage due to the presence of antibodies which do not recognize body cells, attack them and lead to its destruction.

Systemic lupus erythematosus most commonly affects blood vessels, joints, heart, skin, kidneys, liver and nervous tissue. The actual course of the disease is highly unpredictable and majority of patients actually suffer from occasional flare-ups and remission. The very disease predominantly affects women and the highest incidence is in women between the age of 15 and 35.

The symptoms of the disease basically depend on the affected organ. The disease is considered 'a great imitator' since its symptoms and signs may mimic other illnesses. All the patients suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus initially complain about fever, malaise, joint pain and fatigue. Dermatological manifestations of the disease are usually in a form of butterfly rash on the face and/ or red scaly patches on the skin. Musculoskeletal symptoms include joint and muscle pain. Hematological symptoms and signs of systemic lupus erythematosus include low platelet and white blood cell counts etc. The disease may cause inflammation of various parts of the heart (pericarditis, myocarditis and endocarditis) and related symptoms. Pulmonary form of the disease features with pleuritis, pleural effusion, lupus pneumonitis etc. Lupus nephritis causes painless hematuria and proteinuria and eventually leads to chronic renal impairment and renal failure. And there are also various neuropsychiatric and neurologic symptoms and signs of the disease.

Prognosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus is considered the most serious rheumatic disease. The prognosis actually varies on the number of organs affected by the process of inflammation and consequent destruction. A primary cause of lethal outcome in patients suffering from lupus is atherosclerosis. Systemic lupus erythematosus is highly unpredictable disease.

Patients with mild form of the disease are successfully treated and their remission lasts longer than in patients with more serious form of the disease. Mild forms of the disease require regular tests for potential organ involvement.

Wide spread systemic lupus erythematosus features with life-long flare-ups and remission. The flare-ups may occur two to three times a year. The degree of the severity of the illness is associated with intensity of the inflammatory response, frequency of episodes and the degree of organ involvement. The prognosis is worse if there is involvement and damage to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and lungs.

Thanks to more aggressive and more effective treatment of the disease, the prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus has significantly improved over years.

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