Systemic lupus erythematosus

What is SLE?


  • Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems such as joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. It can be quite difficult to diagnose because lupus symptoms mimic other conditions. The most distinctive feature of lupus is the butterfly rash on the face occurring across both cheeks, but doesn’t occur in all cases of lupus. Certain circumstances or conditions can trigger the development of lupus such as: infections, drugs or even sun exposure.


Who is impacted?


  • The following may increase the chance of developing lupus:
    • Gender (lupus is more common amongst females)
    • Age (occurs mostly between the ages of 15 and 45)
    • Race (lupus is more common amongst African-American, Hispanics, and Asian Americans)



How is SLE diagnosed?


  • As mentioned before, diagnosing lupus is quite difficult. The combination of blood and urine tests, signs and symptoms, and physical examination can be helpful. The following tests and procedures are used in diagnosing lupus:
    • Complete blood count
    • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
    • Kidney and liver assessment
    • Urinalysis
    • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
    • Chest X-ray
    • Echocardiogram
    • Biopsy



How is SLE treated?


  • Lupus can be treated by one or more of the following classes of medications:
    • NSAIDs
    • Antimalarial drugs
      • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
    • Corticosteroids
    • Immunosuppressants
      • Azathioprine (Imuran)
      • Mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept)
      • Methotrexate (Trexall)
    • Biologics
      • Belimumab (Benlysta)
      • Rituximab (Rituxan)