Lupus life expectancy will largely depend on the severity of the condition at the onset of treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can certainly help to significantly increase the life expectancy of lupus patients.
In the past, mortality rate of lupus patients was high but today the 5-year survival rate of these patients has crossed the 90% threshold and the 20-year survival rate has surpassed the 80% mark as observed at Johns Hopkins University.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system ‘revolts’ against healthy cells, resulting in inflammation of tissues and organs. This chronic inflammatory condition follows a relapse-remission cycle. During the relapse or flare-up phase, the symptoms worsen and when in remission, the condition improves. Although lupus can affect both genders at all ages, it usually affects women in the age group of 15 to 45. Since lupus can affect multiple organs in later stages of illness, life expectancy of lupus patients has always been a subject of great concern for many.
Factors that Influence Lupus Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of any patient diagnosed with lupus, depends on multiple factors, the most important being the time of diagnosis, severity of the illness and the lifestyle the patient is leading. These and other factors are explained below:
Lupus when caught in the early stages and treated with right medication can be controlled and is unlikely to cause any complications. The earlier the diagnosis, higher will be the chances of better outcome of treatment.
The extent to which the condition has advanced when the treatment has started is critical in evaluating life expectancy. Has lupus invaded the internal organs and if so what is the damage caused? All these factors determine the life expectancy of patients affected with lupus.
Kidneys are the most commonly affected organs in lupus. The resulting kidney problems may or may not cause symptoms depending upon how severely it is affected. A urinalysis will be able to detect problems with the functioning of the kidneys. People with lupus are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions and breathing problems due to inflammation of tissue around the lungs. Skin rashes is yet another sign that is commonly associated with lupus flare-ups.
Also, it is not uncommon for lupus patients to suffer from inflammatory joint conditions that cause stiffness and limit the range of motion. Now, with a better understanding of the condition, medical science has taken a huge leap in managing these health complications. In fact, experts are of the opinion that with the right treatment, it is now possible to even prevent these complications. Although, it is difficult to predict the way the disease will progress, it is observed that in general 50% of lupus patients tend to have a non-critical form of lupus that affects only the skin and the muscle tissues. So, getting diagnosed with lupus does not necessarily mean that it will be severe and invade the internal organs.
Can one die from lupus disease? With medical science making major strides, it has now become easier to diagnose and treat lupus patients effectively. Hence, mortality rate of lupus patients has drastically gone down causing fewer casualties. Not taking the dose regularly or avoiding the medication altogether for the fear of side effects can lead to serious complications and shorten the life expectancy.
Anti-malarial drugs such as Plaqueril are found to be better at increasing the life expectancy of lupus patients. However, this medication can interfere with normal vision, particularly in people who have pre-existing eye problem. So when put on Plaqueril, make sure you visit your ophthalmologist to monitor eye health.
Leading an active lifestyle is crucial to improve prognosis. The impact of lifestyle does influence the outcome of treatment. One simply cannot afford to be inactive/less active with lupus. People diagnosed with lupus are at an increased risk of suffering from heart problems. So, it is very important that you follow a diet that promotes heart health. Unhealthy habits like smoking should be immediately discarded. Focusing more on eating raw organic vegetables and fruits, may help ease symptoms of lupus up to an extent. Incorporating an exercise routine in your schedule is also necessary to maintain weight and reduce the burden on the joints.
Previously, lupus was a poorly understood condition but now with advancements in medical science, there is much better understanding of the disease. As a result, the condition can now be managed more efficiently, which has led to dramatic improvement in life expectancy of patients affected with lupus.
On the whole, following a healthy diet, remaining active, taking the right treatment and most importantly going for regular health check-ups and tests every month to monitor response to the treatment, can certainly help to increase longevity and lifespan of lupus patients.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.