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Lupus Death Statistics

written by: Sherry Morris • edited by: lrohner • updated: 2/20/2011

Lupus death statistics have been on the rise in the past 20 years. Early detection, regular doctor visits and proper treatment is important for maintaining an active normal lifespan.

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    Lupus Death Statistics

    Lupus death statistics are on the rise. Between 1979 and 1998, the annual number of deaths increased from 879 to 1,406. In that time frame, there were a total of 22,861 deaths reported.

    Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys and other organs. Systemic lupus accounts for 70 percent of lupus cases. In 50 percent of these cases, the lungs, heart, kidney or brain will be affected.

    Cutaneous lupus accounts for 10 percent of lupus cases. It affects only the skin and creates various kinds of skin lesions, mostly on the face, though it can appear on other parts of the body. When the rash heals, it can cause scarring. Some patients go on to develop systemic lupus.

    Drug induced lupus caused by high doses of certain medications accounts for the remaining 10 percent of lupus cases. The symptoms of drug induced lupus are similar to systemic lupus. However, symptoms usually subside when the medication is stopped.

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    Lupus Skin Rash (butterfly rash)

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    Symptoms

    Though no cases are exactly alike, some of the symptoms could include any combination of the following:

    Hair loss, skin sores and rashes, nose or mouth sores, anxiety, depression, extreme sensitivity to the sun, easy bruising, muscle pain, joint pain stiffness, swelling and extreme fatigue that does not go away after rest. Anemia, seizures, confusion, dizziness, swollen legs and eyes, swollen glands, vision problems, changes in behavior and weight loss or gain are also symptoms of this condition.

    If you find you have four or more of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment and discuss it with your physician who can schedule testing or refer you to a rheumatologist.

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    Conclusion

    Ten to 15 percent of people with lupus die prematurely due to the complications of lupus. However, a normal lifespan is possible for many people with remissions and relapses being quite common. They are able to hold jobs and live a full and normal lifestyle. The five-year survival rate is about 97 percent. The 10-year survival rate is about 90 percent. Death is usually caused by renal failure or an infection.

    For most people lupus is a mild disease. For others, it can be disabling and cause serious and even life threatening problems when affects one of the vital organs. One in five are disabled, mostly by fatigue, joint and muscle pain.

    There is no cure for lupus. Though researchers are preparing for a major leap forward. A new medication that could be an effective new treatment for lupus, Benlysta, was endorsed in November 2010 by an advisory panel of the US Food and Drug Administration and was recommended for approval. If approved, it will be the first new treatment in 54 years. This drug appears to be safe and effective. The FDA should make a decision before the end of the year.