Lupus Survival Rates Plateau Over Last 9 Years
Similar to an unsolved crime, Lupus (SLE – systemic lupus erythematosus) is a key suspect in a lot of ongoing investigations. Countless hours and research have been dedicated in the hopes of finding a cure for this disease, yet many leads have ended up being dead ends. Lupus cases are still on the rise despite technological advancements in healthcare, with more than 16,000 new cases being reported each year.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the body is not able to fight against viruses, bacteria, or germs because it is not able to create antibodies. Lupus commonly occurs in people between the ages of 15 and 44, and it mostly appears in women of color. However, in younger children and teenagers, more and more cases are being diagnosed. Among adult and pediatric patients, though, rates of occurrence have not increased over the past 20 years. Between 1950—1990, the five-year survival rate of adults has increased from 50 or 60 percent to almost 95 percent. During that same time, there was an increase in the number of pediatric patients in the 1950s from 60 or 70 percent to 90 percent in the 1980s. From the 1980s until now, according to recent data, the survival rates for lupus patients have plateaued. The five-year, ten-year, and fifteen-year survival rate from 2008 to 2016 in adults from high-income families were 0.95, 0.89, and 0.83, whereas they were 0.92, 0.85, and 0.79 in low-income families. In pediatric patients, the five- and ten-year survival rates were 0.99 and 0.97 in high-income countries, and in low-income countries, they were 0.85 and 0.79.
There was a striking difference noted between pediatric cases in high-income and low- or middle-income countries. Despite the major improvements from the 1950s to the 1990s, the study concluded the research to be definite and substantial. In both adult and pediatric patients, the number of deaths due to SLE in high-income countries has decreased, however, in low-income countries in pediatric patients, SLE still remains one of the leading causes of fatalities.
A hypothesis as to why the rates have begun to plateau may be because more damage is caused to organs over time since SLE patients live longer, thus limiting their overall survival. However, no scientific study has supported this theory. Neuropsychiatric damage and renal damage can negatively contribute to this plateau. The overall survival rate, however, can be improved by managing these two factors.
Early identification is very important for lupus patients. The symptoms of lupus can be quite similar to those of other diseases, such as allergic reactions, colds, and the flu. The survival rates among those diagnosed with lupus can increase by seeing a doctor immediately after symptoms appear. Flare ups can thus be better managed and the impact can be less severe.
Coping with Stress
Lupus not only impacts psychical but also mental health. Doctors often recommend plenty of exercise and ways to relax the mind and body. Stress releases three types of hormones in the body: adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. On the flip side, dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, is released when the body is relaxed.
Nationwide events are offered by the Lupus Foundation of America. They bring all lupus patients to one location for social and informational gatherings. To get through this difficult diagnosis, strong support groups with friends and/or family are highly encouraged.