Living With Lupus

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have a form of lupus.

Although lupus can strike men and women of all ages, 90 percent of individuals diagnosed with the disease are women.
Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.

Systemic lupus accounts for approximately 70 percent of all cases of lupus. In approximately half of these cases, a major organ, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys or brain, will be affected.
Cutaneous lupus (affecting only the skin) accounts for approximately 10 percent of all lupus cases.
Drug-induced lupus accounts for about 10 percent of all lupus cases and is caused by high doses of certain medications. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus are similar to systemic lupus; however, symptoms usually subside when the medications are discontinued.

In approximately 10 percent of all cases, individuals will have symptoms and signs of more than one connective tissue disease, including lupus. A physician may use the term “overlap syndrome” or “mixed connective tissue disease” to describe the illness.

20 percent of people with lupus will have a parent or sibling who already has lupus or may develop lupus.

About 5 percent of the children born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness.

Lupus is two to three times more prevalent among women of color — African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders — than among Caucasian women.

It is difficult to determine the annual number of new lupus cases, or the number of individuals who die from health complications of the disease. However, due to improved diagnosis and disease management, most people with the disease will go on to live a normal life span. However, it is believed that between 10-15 percent of people with lupus will die prematurely due to complications of lupus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report in May 2002 which indicated that deaths attributed to lupus increased over a 20-year period, particularly among African American women ages 45-64. However, it is not clear if the rise is the result of an actual increase in lupus mortality or better identification and reporting of deaths due to complications of the disease. Trends in Deaths from SLE — United States, 1979 – 1998