How does Lupus affect women

How does Lupus affect women

 

Lupus is a chronic (lifelong) autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body and affects more women than men. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Although anyone can get lupus, about 9 out of 10 diagnoses of lupus are in women ages 15 to 44–  the period we can have children.

 

Having lupus raises your risk of other health problems. Lupus can also make these problems happen earlier in life compared to women who do not have lupus. These health complications include:

 

1 Heart disease: lupus raises the most common heart disease risk, called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is partly because people with lupus have more CAD risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Lupus causes inflammation (swelling), which also increases the risk for CAD. Women with lupus may be less active because of fatigue, joint problems, and muscle pain, which also puts them at risk for heart disease. In one study, women with lupus were 50 times more likely to have chest pain or a heart attack than other women of the same age;

 

2 Osteoporosis: Medicines that treat lupus may cause bone loss. Bone loss can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak and broken bones. Also, pain and fatigue can keep women with lupus from getting physical activity. Staying active can help prevent bone loss;

 

3 Kidney disease: More than half of all people with lupus have kidney problems, called lupus nephritis. Kidney problems often begin within the first five years after lupus symptoms start to appear. This is one of the more severe complications of lupus. Also, kidney inflammation is not usually painful, so you don’t know when it’s happening. That is why it’s crucial for people with lupus to get regular urine and blood tests for kidney disease. Treatment for lupus nephritis works best if caught early.

 

Besides that, African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. Lupus is also more common in Hispanic, Asian, and Native American, and Alaskan Native women.

 

African-American and Hispanic women usually get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, including kidney problems, than women of other groups. African-Americans with lupus also have more issues with seizures, strokes, and dangerous swelling of the heart. Hispanic women with lupus also have more heart problems than women of other groups. Researchers think that genes play a role in how lupus affects minority women.

 

Researchers are still studying possible causes of lupus. We do know that lupus is not a disease you can catch from someone else. Genes play an important role but are not the only reason a person will get lupus. Even someone with one or more of the genes associated with lupus has only a tiny chance of actually getting it. Researchers are studying possible causes such as:

 

1 The environment: Sunlight, stress, smoking, certain medicines, and viruses may trigger symptoms in people who are most likely to get lupus due to their genes;

 

2 Hormones such as estrogen: Lupus is more common in women during their childbearing years when estrogen levels are highest:

 

3 Problems with the immune system.

 

If you, like me, have lupus, please let me spread the knowledge about the disease. The more awareness, the more people get diagnosed and treated earlier. Together we are stronger!

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