What is lupusc
Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, is a disease that is characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain are the organs most affected. Lupus affects each individual differently and the effects of the illness range from mild to severe. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs in about one in 1,000 people. It is much more common in women of childbearing age, especially African-American women.
What are the symptoms of lupusc
The following are the most common symptoms of lupus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
malar rash – a rash shaped like a butterfly that is usually found on the bridge of the nose and the cheeks.discoid rash – a raised rash found on the head, arms, chest, or back.feverinflammation of the jointssunlight sensitivityhair lossmouth ulcersfluid around the lungs, heart, or other organskidney problemslow white blood cell or low platelet countRaynaud phenomenon – a condition in which the blood vessels of the fingers and toes go into spasm when triggered by factors such as cold, stress, or illness.weight lossnerve or brain dysfunctionanemia
The symptoms of lupus may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is lupus diagnosedc
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, lupus may be diagnosed by symptoms and by blood tests for antibodies specific for the disease. The course of the disease ranges from mild to severe and most people have periods of increased symptoms called flares.
How does pregnancy affect lupusc
Pregnancy may or may not increase the symptoms of, or change the course of, lupus. Flares may occur at any time in pregnancy or the postpartum period (after delivery), but are usually mild.
How does lupus affect pregnancyc
Lupus can affect pregnancy at any stage. It is not clear whether the severity of the disease or the type of medication causes problems. However, there are higher pregnancy risks associated with lupus. The rate of miscarriage is higher, ranging from 9 to 40 percent. Later pregnancy loss may also be more likely. Pregnancy complications that may be increased in women with lupus include, but are not limited to, the following:
miscarriagepreterm delivery, especially with a lupus flarepremature rupture of membranes (early breaking of the amniotic sac)pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure of pregnancy)intrauterine growth restriction (poor fetal growth)stillbirth
It is thought that high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies (antibodies that cause abnormal blood clotting) may be linked with stillbirth. Pregnancy loss may also be associated with the severity of lupus at the time of conception, or if lupus begins during pregnancy. It is also thought that kidney disease with lupus may play a role in pregnancy loss.

A rare condition called neonatal lupus erythematosus (NLE) may affect babies of mothers with lupus. Symptoms may include:
congenital heart block – a problem in the heart’s electrical system that causes the heart to be slower than normal. This affects about 5 percent of newborns who have no other heart defect.skin rashes on the face, scalp, chest and upper back (these usually go away in the first year)blood abnormalities including anemia, low platelets, and lowered white blood cell countManagement of lupus during pregnancy:
Because of the higher risks for pregnancy loss with lupus, mothers need close monitoring of the disease. More frequent prenatal visits are often needed.

Medications used to treat lupus may need to be changed (type and/or dosage), during pregnancy. Consult your physician for more information.

Testing during pregnancy with lupus may include the following:
blood tests for lupus (specific antibodies that help track the severity of the disease)monitoring for signs of pregnancy-induced hypertensionultrasound – a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels used to monitor fetal growth and development.fetal heart monitoring (to check the fetal heart rate for signs of distress)
Women with lupus can increase their chances for a healthy pregnancy by getting early prenatal care and working with their healthcare providers in the management of their disease.
Lupus death rate jumps:
There has been a sharp increase in deaths from lupus that is concerning government health officials. Reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate from lupus increased by 35 percent over two decades. The greatest increase occurred among middle-aged black women, among whom the death toll rose by almost 70 percent.

Unfortunately experts have no clear explanation for the increase in the death rate. The CDC is considering establishing a special registry, which may help determine whether the increased death rate is real or comes from better recognition of the condition.

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