Patients with lupus have to do what they can to prevent organ and tissue damage in their bodies. There may be a few risk factors for patients to address to help them prevent further damage.
A recent study looked at a group of lupus patients to see what risk factors may have hurt or helped their condition.
The researchers found that antimalaria medication use slowed damage associated with lupus, while high blood pressure and steroid use increased the risk of damage.
Ian N. Bruce, MD, FRCP, professor of rheumatology at the University of Manchester in the UK, led this investigation into possible risk factors for certain complications of lupus.
Lupus is a long-term disease. With lupus, the body’s immune system attacks its own organs and tissues. This damage can be permanent and life-threatening.
For this study, the researchers recruited 1,722 lupus patients who were part of the large, ongoing Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort Study from 2000 to 2011.
The average age of patients at the time of enrollment was 35. The participants attended an average of 4.25 follow-up visits throughout the study.
The SLICC included patients from 31 centers in 11 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.
Each participant was enrolled in this study within 15 months of hitting his or her fourth 1987 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria.
The 1987 ACR classification ranked seriousness of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis-related diseases, such as lupus.
The classification system ranges from 1-7 with a less serious symptom of “morning stiffness” as the first classification, and “symmetric arthritis” as the fourth. Symmetric arthritis involves arthritis in two of the same joint areas on both sides of the body.
At the start of the study, 34.8 percent of the patients had at least one area of tissue or organ damage in the body, which jumped to 51.1 percent after six years.
Changes in organ and tissue damage were assessed with the SLICC and ACR damage index on 1,502 patients, including 1,337 women.
The researchers found that patients with organ or tissue damage at the start of the study, older patients, African American patients, those with high blood pressure, patients who used steroids and those with more severe lupus problems were more likely to have increasing damage over time.
Patients who were male, had taken antimalaria medication or were of Asian or Caucasian race were less likely to have increasing damage over time.
The researchers concluded that lupus activity, blood pressure and steroid use might contribute to worsening lupus, while antimalaria medications may help protect disease progression in lupus patients.
This study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Diego, California on October 30. This study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Dr. Bruce and other authors disclosed financial relationships with Glaxo Smith Kline, Roche Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb.