Spotlight on Lupus
Advancing our Epidemiologic Understanding of Lupus
Lupus refers to several conditions, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune connective tissue disease with a diverse array of clinical manifestations, and various forms of skin lupus, which is limited to the skin. Among rheumatic conditions, SLE has a relatively low prevalence but high severity, and is especially frequent among women and African-Americans. Premature mortality occurs from kidney and heart disease, as well as active SLE itself.
Current U.S. estimates of SLE prevalence vary considerably, ranging from 300,000 to 4 million people, and there are few prevalence estimates of skin lupus. Knowing the prevalence of lupus is important to understanding the true magnitude and impact of systemic lupus erythematosus and skin lupus and to help develop approaches to reduce lupus impact by improving early diagnosis and appropriate clinical and self management.
An article on CDC-supported lupus registries in Georgia and Michigan reviews the methods currently being used to define the prevalence, as well as the incidence, of SLE and skin lupus in whites and African Americans. These methods address the difficulties in finding cases, abstracting medical record data to ascertain whether cases meet classification criteria, and addressing a relatively uncommon but potentially severe disease. New registries are being developed to provide similar estimates for the Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. Read more about this CDC supported project.
Lim SS, Drenkard C, Helmick CG, Gordon C, DeGuire P, Bayakly R, McCune WJ, Somers EC. Population-based lupus registries: advancing our epidemiologic understanding. Arthritis Care & Research 2009;61(10):1462–66.