‘Lupus patients usually come too late’

Awareness about the disease is low as it is rare, says expert

Delay in diagnosis is causing patients to suffer and many of them are hospitalised in grave health conditions. World Lupus Day is observed on May 10 to promote public awareness about this rare disease, said Vadlamudi Narendra, rheumatologist and Lupus specialist working with the Ramesh Group of Hospitals.

Talking to The Hindu, Dr Narendra said that awareness was low about Lupus because the disease was rare. There was no cure for Lupus, an autoimmune disease, as recent as the 1970s.

Foreign invaders

Any part of the body — skin, joints and even the internal organs of the patients — get badly damaged. It is considered a chronic disease because the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often many years. Autoimmunity disease means that the immune system is unable to tell the difference between these foreign invaders and body’s healthy tissue. As a result antibodies are created to attack and destroy health tissue also. These antibodies cause inflammation, pain and damage in different parts of the body.

Three in a thousand were afflicted by this disease, Dr. Narendra said. It was important not to neglect any symptoms like fever, blood clots or even skin rashes for prolonged periods.

People having Lupus could even end up having a heart attack, Dr. Narendra said. Those who were diagnosed late only had a 50% chance of survival, he said.

Lupus could range from mild to life-threatening and only a doctor could treat it. With good medical care, most people with the disease could live a full life, Dr. Narendra said.

“Lupus is a multifactorial disease,” he said. It +is not a contagious disease and not an entirely genetic. Lupus is not like or related to cancer, but some treatments could be similar to that of cancer, for example chemotherapy. Lupus could not be compared to HIV in which the immune system is underactive, in the former the immune system is hyperactive.

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