How Common Is Lupus?
- Lupus occurs in one out of every 1,000 Caucasian women and 1 out of every 250 African American women.
- About 80% of Lupus cases occur in women between the ages of 15 and 45.
- About 90% of people with lupus are women.
- It is relatively rare in men and children.
- Lupus has a genetic component. This means that a child can inherit a predisposition to lupus, but not lupus itself. Lupus can be triggered by environmental factors like viruses or medications.
Since lupus is so common in women, there are certain things that women with lupus should be aware of.
Lupus is linked with osteoporosis
- Lupus, lupus medications, and lack of activity due to fatigue associated with lupus can all cause severe bone loss. This in turn can cause osteoporosis.
- In fact, women with lupus are 5 times more likely to get a fracture than women without lupus.
- Additionally, women already account for 68% of the cases of osteoporosis.
- If you are a woman with lupus you should be especially vigilant about your bone health.
- Be sure to get plenty of calcium and exercise. Good sources of calcium are dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Women with lupus are at higher risk for heart disease
- Studies show that women with lupus are 5 to 10 times more likely than the general population to develop heart disease.
- Women with lupus have a higher risk of hypertension, higher levels of bad cholesterol, and higher levels of blood triglycerides, all of which are heart disease risk factors.
- Since lupus often results in inflammation, the heart and arteries can become inflamed due to lupus. Inflammation can cause stretching and tearing of blood vessels, resulting in potentially dangerous clots.
- If you have lupus, you should maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, and get moderate amounts of aerobic exercise to protect your heart health.
Lupus and Pregnancy
Since lupus is diagnosed in women of childbearing age, or ages 15 to 45 in 80% of cases, how lupus affects pregnancy is a major concern. Often, women whose lupus is in remission can carry a baby to term safely. However, there are some special precautions that must be taken.
- Visit your health practitioner regularly so that the baby's health can be monitored.
- Do not smoke, drink, or take recreational drugs during pregnancy.
- Discuss your current medications with your health practitioner. Although many of the medications used to treat lupus are safe for pregnant women, some are not, and you should be sure not to take these if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
- 20% of pregnant women with lupus will experience hypertension related to pregnancy, or pre-eclampsia. This is a serious condition that is dangerous for both the mother and the baby. Be sure that your health practitioner checks your blood pressure regularly to screen for this condition. If late in the third trimester, the baby may need to be delivered immediately.