Systemic Lupus (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Catherine Burt Driver, MD
Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.
In this Article
- Systemic lupus erythematosus facts
- What is systemic lupus erythematosus? What are the types of lupus?
- What causes systemic lupus erythematosus? Is lupus hereditary?
- What is drug-induced lupus?
- What are lupus symptoms and signs?
- How is systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for systemic lupus?
- How can a lupus patient help prevent disease activity (flares)?
- How can systemic lupus erythematosus affect pregnancy or the newborn?
- What does the future hold for people with systemic lupus?
- Where can one get more information about systemic lupus erythematosus?
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus FAQs
- Find a local Rheumatologist in your town
What does the future hold for people with systemic lupus?
Overall, the outlook for people with systemic lupus is improving each decade with the development of more accurate monitoring tests and treatments.
The role of the immune system in causing diseases is becoming better understood through research. This knowledge will be applied to design safer and more effective treatment methods. For example, completely revising the immune system of people with extremely aggressive treatments that virtually temporarily wipe out the immune system is being evaluated. Current studies involve immune eradication with or without replacement of cells that can re-establish the immune system (stem cell transplantation).
It should be noted that people with SLE are at a somewhat increased risk for developing cancer. The cancer risk is most dramatic for blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, but is also increased for breast cancer. This risk probably relates, in part, to the altered immune system that is characteristic of SLE.
Women with SLE appear to be at increased risk for heart disease (coronary artery disease) according to recent reports. Women with SLE should be evaluated and counseled to minimize risk factors for heart disease, such as elevated blood cholesterol, quitting smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has been helpful in reducing fatigue, improving thinking difficulties, and improving quality of life in people with SLE. Recent research indicates that DHEA has been shown to improve or stabilize signs and symptoms of SLE. DHEA is commonly available in health-food stores, pharmacies, and many groceries.
Landmark research has shown clearly that oral contraceptives do not increase the rate of flares of systemic lupus erythematosus. This important finding is opposite to what has been thought for years. Now we can reassure women with lupus that if they take birth-control pills, they are not increasing their risk for lupus flares. Note: Birth-control pills or any estrogen medications should still be avoided by women who are at increased risk of blood clotting, such as women with lupus who have phospholipid antibodies (including cardiolipin antibody and lupus anticoagulant).
Individuals with SLE can improve their prognosis by learning about the many aspects of the illness as well as closely monitoring their own health with their doctors.
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