Disease Overview

Lupus

Lupus is a complex, chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissues instead of pathogens.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that damages many organs in the body. The triggering event for lupus is still unknown. Lupus can take on many different shades, having no clear symptoms that can be detected. A patient may know something is wrong but diagnosing the cause can take a significant amount of time.

Over time lupus can damage different organs such as kidneys, lungs, heart and brain. Lupus is characterized by periods of illness (called flares) and periods of wellness (called remission). Understanding how to prevent and treat flares helps people with lupus sustain better health, leading to a better quality of life.

Who gets lupus and why is the disease still a mystery?

Overall, women are more likely to get Lupus than men. Certain ethnic groups have also been associated with an increased frequency of developing lupus. African American women are at the highest risk of developing lupus, followed by Latina and Asian women. Caucasian women are at the lowest risk of developing SLE. Genetic factors, such as having a first-degree relative with SLE, increases one’s chance of developing the disease. In addition, environmental factors may play a role in the disease’s development and symptoms.