60% of lupus patients develop lupus nephritis
Approximately 60% of lupus patients develop lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis specifically targets the kidneys and causes them to inflame, which can also lead to kidney failure if not treated immediately.
Medications that are used in the treatment of lupus nephritis include:
- Corticosteroids: These potent anti-inflammatory drugs are designed to decrease inflammation. Doctors do not like to keep a patient on corticosteroids for a long period of time due to their severe side effects. Once your lupus nephritis starts to improve, the dosage of these drugs is reduced.
- Immunosuppressive drugs: Immunosuppressive drugs are similar to the drugs used to treat cancer and prevent organ transplant rejection. Immunosuppressive drugs work by suppressing the immune system activity from damaging the kidneys. Some of these drugs are cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, and mycophenolate.
- Medications that prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure can also be prescribed if needed.
Treatment is aggressive, but there is still a high chance for your kidneys to fail. If both kidneys fail and you have lupus nephritis, dialysis or a kidney transplant might be necessary.