A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that lupus is among the leading causes of death in young women. The study, “Lupus – An Unrecognized Leading Cause of Death in Young Women: Population-based Study Using Nationwide Death Certificates, 2000-2015,” found that lupus was among the top leading causes of death in females ages 5-64. Lupus also was found to be the fifth-ranked cause of death among black and Hispanic women ages 15-24, after excluding the three common external injury causes of death from the analysis.
These findings demonstrate that lupus is an urgent public health issue and stresses the need for more funding to be dedicated to lupus research.
At least five million people worldwide are living with lupus. Likely this estimate is low due to the lack of epidemiological data on lupus. While the impact of lupus is high and widespread more than half (51%) of those who responded to a 16-nation online poll indicated they were not aware lupus is a disease.
Symptoms of lupus are not always specific and often mimic those of other diseases, making lupus a challenge to diagnose and treat. People with lupus can experience everything from fatigue, skin rashes and hair loss to cardiovascular disease, strokes and kidney failure.
A national needs assessment conducted by the Lupus Foundation of America found that joint and muscle pain, fatigue and swollen joints were the first lupus symptoms that caused people who were eventually diagnosed with lupus to seek medical attention.
These symptoms can be signs of many diseases and conditions, which makes it a challenge to diagnose lupus. Most patients, and even most family physicians, won’t automatically suspect that these symptoms relate to a severe and potentially fatal disease.
The Lupus Foundation of America’s national needs assessment found that, on average, a confirmed diagnosis of lupus will take six years and visits to four doctors from the time symptoms begin to appear.
Given the severe health complications that can develop from lupus, late diagnosis of lupus and delayed treatment contributes worse health outcomes and may increase the number of deaths linked to lupus.
Therefore, it is crucial for lupus organizations around the world to promote awareness of lupus symptoms, support research to develop more efficient diagnostic tools and to develop more targeted and effective therapies, and provide education programs to help people living with lupus better manage their disease.
Join the fight to end lupus. Get involved with the lupus group that serves your country. Lupus organizations need volunteers, donors, and advocates who will help raise awareness of lupus and obtain funds to support programs that can bring an end to the brutal impact of lupus.
Check out our list of lupus groups around the world.