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37 Sensitive Lupus Statistics You Should Know in 2021

Autoimmune diseases are some of the most deadly types of illnesses that our world has ever encountered. They cause the human body to attack itself, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which is the most common type of lupus, is one of them. 

Lupus statistics show that this condition is characterized by many debilitating symptoms. This explains why some call it the “disease of 1,000 faces.” Unfortunately, people suffering from lupus have to live with it for the rest of their lives as there is no cure at the moment. Rather, it can be managed via a symptom-based treatment that helps in the reduction of inflammation.

The following lupus facts and statistics will help you learn everything there is to know about this disease, how it affects the quality of life, what you need to do if you have it, and how many people this deadly disease affects worldwide.

Top 10 Interesting Stats and Facts About Lupus

  • At least 5 million people worldwide are living with lupus.
  • Currently, there are over 50 genes associated with this disease.
  • About 30% of people with lupus have antibodies known as the anti-dsDNA antibodies.
  • 10%–15% of those with lupus will die prematurely because of complications of lupus.
  • It costs between $6,000 and $10,000 annually to provide medical care to a lupus patient.
  • 20% of those with lupus have a parent or sibling who also has lupus or may develop it.
  • 10% of children born with neonatal lupus will end up having anemia.
  • Childhood-onset SLE affects 3.3–8.8 children out of every 100,000 globally.
  • In the United States, people report around 16,000 fresh cases of lupus each year.
  • 53%–80% of SLE patients complain of fatigue as one of their major symptoms.

General Lupus Statistics

1. Lupus is an autoimmune disease.

(Medical News Today)

Lupus facts show that autoimmune diseases are diseases that make the body cause harm to itself. Lupus forces the immune system or antibodies to attack both healthy tissues and unwanted substances found in the body, causing inflammation, chronic pain, rashes, swelling, etc.

2. There is currently no cure for lupus.

(Healthline)

Currently, this disease has no cure. However, medications are available to help you manage the lupus symptoms and prevent lupus flares. Treatment currently focuses on easing symptoms and reducing the damage that may occur to your joints, organs, and tissues.

3. An infected person cannot transfer lupus to an uninfected person.

(Medical News Today)

There’s one question that both those suffering from lupus and those close to them need an answer to—Is lupus contagious?

Fortunately, unlike microorganisms that transmit from one person to another via touch or air, lupus is an autoimmune disease and doesn’t spread via contact. Lupus awareness facts teach that these diseases are characterized by the malfunction of your immune system and are therefore not transferable via contact, only genetically.

4. At least 5 million people worldwide are living with lupus. 

(Lupus.org)

Although there aren’t any definite means to determine the number of people living with lupus globally, the Lupus Foundation of America estimates that millions of people have one form of lupus or the other, which includes:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Drug-induced lupus
  • Cutaneous lupus
  • Neonatal lupus

5. Most lupus patients are photosensitive. 

(Healthline)

The majority of lupus patients are sensitive to sunlight and other forms of UV radiation. This is because exposure to sunlight triggers lupus symptoms such as rash, skin inflammation, and sometimes flare-ups.

6. Currently, there are over 50 genes associated with lupus. 

(Lupus.org, Lupus.org)

Although there isn’t any known specific cause of lupus, research on lupus prevalence shows that some genetic variants are most likely to suffer from lupus. By 2010, research had linked about 30 genetic variations to lupus. 

Today, there are more than 50, or even close to 100, depending on the source. So, in case you have been wondering what causes lupus, now you know one of its major causes.

7. About 30% of people with lupus have an antibody known as the anti-dsDNA antibody.

(Hopkins Lupus, MSD Manuals)

Anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) is a group of antinuclear or autoantibodies that target the body’s healthy cells, causing damage to tissues and organs. According to lupus stats, they are produced due to immune system failure and specifically target the genetic material (DNA) found in the cell nucleus.

8. Insomnia and narcolepsy are two major sleep issues associated with lupus.

(Lupus Corner)

Multiple sleep problems are common for people having lupus, as confirmed by most lupus education sources. However, narcolepsy, (a sleep disorder that occurs following damage to hypocretin-producing neurons in the brain) and insomnia (persistent problems with falling and staying asleep) are the most common causes. 

These conditions make it difficult for lupus patients to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, which may cause lupus symptom flares.

9. There is no known 100% accurate cause of lupus symptoms

(WebMD)

From achy joints to constant fatigue, lupus can affect a patient in many ways. For this reason, all lupus treatments are specific to individual conditions, and there isn’t one universal way of treating symptoms of the disease.

10. It is easy to misdiagnose lupus as other chronic diseases.

(CDC, Healthline)

Chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia share the same symptoms as lupus. So, how is lupus diagnosed? This is where the services of a rheumatologist (a doctor who has additional training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases) come into play.

11. One of the most severe and prevalent symptoms of this disease is lupus nephritis.

(Mayo Clinic)

Lupus nephritis, also known as renal inflammation, is a common condition in people suffering from chronic lupus. Lupus nephritis prevalence is higher in children, but it also affects adults. 

This disease affects the kidneys’ structures that filter out waste, causing kidney inflammation and other life-threatening illnesses. Abnormalities in the urine, puffy eyes, swollen hands, or feet are symptoms of renal inflammation.

12. Individuals with lupus are at risk of many other illnesses. 

(Mashable)

Lupus statistics for 2020 prove that lupus, on its own, is not fatal. However, people who have lupus are at risk of other illnesses due to an already disrupted immune system, compromised organs, and damaged tissues. Possible illnesses could include cardiovascular diseases, stroke, blood clotting disorders, heart failure, and deteriorating mental health.

13. People with a family history of lupus are at greater risk of developing the disease.

(Healthline)

Genetics plays a huge role in who gets lupus and how severe it’s likely to be. According to lupus statistics, researchers have found over 50 genetic variations that make it likelier that those who inherit them will develop lupus.

14. People with lupus show multiple symptoms.

(Lupus.org)

Although there may be no visible signs for some, others may experience mild to severe symptoms of the lupus disease. Extreme fatigue, physical impairments, hair loss, lack of sleep, and pain are all common in lupus patients. 

15. 10%–15% of individuals with lupus will die prematurely due to the related complications.

(Lupus.org, Lupus.org)

Lupus mortality statistics show that in the past, the diagnosis of lupus often meant a death sentence for the patient. However, with improved treatments today, 85%–90% of lupus patients can expect to live a normal lifespan. The 10%–15% who die do so because of the complications that may arise due to the severity of their condition (e.g., stroke, heart attack, etc.)

16. It costs anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000 annually to provide medical care to a lupus patient.

(Very Well Health, NCBI)

Caring for a lupus patient is not cheap, with some treatment costing several thousand dollars a month. Statistics about lupus show that greater disease activity, worsened physical and mental states, and lengthy disease periods are significant contributors to this high cost of medical treatment.

17. 20% of individuals with lupus have a parent or sibling who already has lupus or may develop it.

(Lupus.org)

Although lupus doesn’t spread from one person to another via contact or sex, it is possible to share a genetic variation with parents or siblings who have lupus or who may develop it. This increases one’s chances of getting lupus, as shown by recent lupus statistics.

18. The most common type of autoantibody that develops in people having lupus is the antinuclear antibody (ANA).

(Medical News Today)

Autoantibodies are antibodies produced by the body in response to a damaged immune system. ANA circulate in the blood and attack the DNA of the nucleus of cells in the body. While some cells may allow these antibodies to pass through, others may not. This explains why lupus patients have some organs damaged and others intact.

Statistics on the Types of Lupus

19. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus.

(Medical News Today)

The symptoms of SLE are more severe than other forms of lupus due to its ability to attack multiple organ systems and tissues. For some, SLE symptoms may be mild, and for others, there may be no symptoms at all. However, during any mild flare-up, the disease becomes active, and symptoms begin to appear.

20. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) only affects the skin.

(CDC, Medical News Today)

This form of lupus acts as a skin disease and affects people with and people without SLE. It is further divided into two forms.

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

This is a form of lupus that forms skin lesions on parts of the body exposed to UV lights. Luckily, these lesions do not cause scarring like those from discoid lupus.

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE)

This is a form of CLE that causes rashes mainly on the face, neck, and scalp, with many people developing scarring in these areas. This form of lupus does not affect the internal organs. However, it has also been found to cause sores in the nose or mouth.

What’s more, 10% of people having DLE are likely to develop SLE in the long run.

21. Lupus can also be drug-induced.

(Medical News Today)

Lupus education shows that drug-induced lupus arises due to the reaction of the body to certain prescription drugs. Research has also discovered that there are over 80 drugs capable of causing drug-induced lupus. Some of these are seizure drugs and high blood pressure drugs. 

Typically, drug-induced lupus goes away after the person stops taking the medication causing the reaction.

22. Around 1% of women with lupus autoantibodies will give birth to a child with neonatal lupus.

(Medical News Today)

Lupus can also affect children from birth. When it does, it is known as neonatal lupus. According to lupus statistics, neonatal lupus occurs when lupus autoantibodies from a pregnant mother travel through the placenta to the fetus. Skin rashes, low blood counts, and liver complications are just some of the different symptoms noticed in babies with this form of lupus.

Lupus Statistics by Age and Gender

23. 10% of children born with neonatal lupus will end up having anemia.

(Medical News Today)

Neonatal lupus can cause a decrease in platelets, white blood cells, and red cells (anemia), while also causing a skin rash. However, a congenital heart block may also occur in babies with neonatal lupus, requiring a pacemaker.

24. The risk of developing lupus disease is higher in women.

(Medical News Today)

According to the US National Institutes of Health, females are 9 times more likely to suffer from lupus disease than males. Statistics on the symptoms of lupus in women show that this might be caused by the higher production of estrogen in females (a hormone that affects immune activities), which encourages autoimmune diseases.

25. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 years have a greater risk of developing lupus disease.

(Medical News Today, CDC)

During adolescence, those who develop lupus tend to have the typical characteristics of lupus that begin during childbearing age, when the production of estrogen is at its maximum. Recent lupus stats further indicate that 9 out of every 10 diagnoses of lupus occur in women within this age group.

26. Women of color have an increased risk of developing lupus.

(CDC)

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, lupus is 2 to 3 times more prevalent among women of color, including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. 

African American and Hispanic women usually develop lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms than other groups. Also, lupus statistics by race reveal that Hispanic women with lupus have more heart problems than women of other groups.

27. Childhood-onset SLE (cSLE) affects approximately 3.3–8.8 kids out of every 100,000 children globally. 

(NCBI)

It is quite rare to see children suffering from lupus, except those with neonatal lupus. However, a higher frequency of cSLE occurs in African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and native Americans.

28. Women with lupus are 50 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or chest pain than those without lupus. 

(CDC)

Lupus survival rate statistics reveal that women with lupus may be less active because of fatigue, joint problems, and muscle pain. A combination of all these puts them at a greater risk of developing heart diseases.

29. 50%–75% of children diagnosed with lupus will develop kidney disease in the future.

(NCBI)

Reports further show that over 90% of children who develop these issues will do so within 2 years of being diagnosed with lupus. Symptoms may include renal insufficiency, peripheral edema, and severe hypertension.  

Lupus Prevalence by Country Statistics

30. In the United States, people report around 16,000 fresh cases of lupus each year.

(Medical News Today)

This statistic proves that cases of lupus are quite rampant in the US. However, more analysis is currently being conducted, so this figure may change soon.

31. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million people in the US live with lupus.

(Very Well Health)

However, it should be noted that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US offers a more conservative estimate of 161,000 to 322,000 cases of people living with lupus. However, 70% of these cases are systemic, and in 50% of the cases, major organs are affected.

Lupus Treatment, Symptoms, and Prevention Statistics

32. Severe cases of lupus are treated with immunosuppressive drugs.

(Healthline)

Immunosuppressive drugs are medications capable of suppressing the immune system’s functions, thereby lowering your body’s defense against infection. They are only used to treat severe lupus cases, where they help reduce the activities of autoantibodies and minimize the symptoms of lupus.

33. Excessive and long-term use of some drugs can cause lupus. 

(Healthline) 

Recent facts about lupus indicate that in drug-induced lupus, the use of certain drugs can bring about this autoimmune disorder. The two drugs whose prolonged use is most often linked with lupus include hydralazine (used in the management of high blood pressure), and procainamide (used in the irregular heart rhythm treatment).

34. 63% of people living with lupus have originally been misdiagnosed.

(Lupus.org, Healthline)

One of the better-known lupus facts is that the symptoms of the disease bear some similarities to other chronic and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Symptoms like rash, fatigue, pain, and anemia are some of the most common signals of autoimmune diseases that share similarities with lupus, thus making the diagnostic process difficult.

35. No two cases of lupus are the same.

(Healthline)

Lupus is considered an unpredictable disease due to the unique nature of each case. As a matter of fact, no two cases of lupus look exactly alike, as shown by the available lupus facts. The organs and tissues affected by each lupus patient differ.

36. 53%–80% of SLE patients complain of fatigue as one of their major symptoms.

(NCBI)

Fatigue is an integral part of living with lupus. Research has shown that there are many factors that might be responsible for this, and they include obesity, physical activity, quality of sleep, and comorbidities (e.g. fibromyalgia), among others.

37. Patients that experience a severe flare-up are at greater risk of developing complications than those with mild to moderate lupus flare-ups. 

(Healthline)

A lupus flare is your body’s response to certain triggers such as UV light, stress, and lack of sleep. According to studies, lupus flares worsen your current lupus symptoms, making you feel extremely ill. However, a patient can easily manage lupus flare-ups with drugs.

FAQ

How many people in the USA have lupus?

According to lupus population prevalence, about 1.5 million people in the United States are currently living with this disease. 

What is lupus disease and what causes it?

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack important tissues and organs in the body, causing inflammation and extreme fatigue in the process. 

Lupus affects many body systems, depending on the severity of its symptoms. Organs and tissues such as joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs are some of the body parts affected by lupus. 

According to top lupus stats, lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms share similarities with other chronic ailments and autoimmune diseases. 

No single case of lupus completely resembles the other, as health experts have identified no single cause of the disease. However, research has shown that a few people are born with specific genetic variations that will probably lead to lupus in the future. Using certain drugs can also cause this disease. On rare occasions, a mother with a genetic variation for lupus may transfer the disease to her infant during pregnancy (neonatal lupus).

What are the 11 criteria for lupus?

They include:

  • Seizures or other nerve problems
  • Abnormal sensitivity to light
  • The occurrence of ulcers in the nose or mouth 
  • Low blood cell counts
  • Butterfly-shaped rash
  • Raised red patches on your skin
  • The occurrence of arthritis of two joints or more, accompanied by tenderness or swelling
  • Inflammation in the heart or lungs lining
  • The presence of certain antibodies in your blood
  • High levels of protein in your urine
  • Results from the ANA blood test suggesting that you may have high levels of “antinuclear” antibodies

How long do people live with lupus?

Due to advancements in technology and improved medical practices, lupus is no longer a death sentence like it used to be. Today, most lupus patients can expect to live a normal lifespan like any healthy person with careful treatment. Lupus death statistics show that only 10%–15% of people living with lupus will die prematurely, and 85%–90% will live a normal lifespan.

Conclusion

Lupus statistics show that the diagnosis of lupus is quite difficult to make due to the similarities shared by lupus and other autoimmune diseases. However, there is no known cause of lupus. Also, even though over 50 genetic variations have been identified to be highly prone to developing lupus, lupus currently has no cure. 

Still, effective and early treatment can ensure that a patient lives a normal lifespan in the long run, as revealed by the interesting facts about lupus we discussed earlier. Rash, fatigue, and chronic pain are some of the most common symptoms experienced by lupus patients worldwide. 

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