Lupus is an autoimmune disease where connective tissues and organs can be attacked by the body's immune system, causing a variety of symptoms that include joint pain and swelling, fever, fatigue, skin rashes and headaches.
For mild cases, lupus treatment may be minimal or unnecessary, but for a small minority of patients, the disease may cause life-threatening health problems and require treatment with medication and significant lifestyle adjustments.
Of the one-half million to 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with lupus, most are women between age 15 and 45 – the disease affects roughly eight times as many women as men. The disease tends to be more common in individuals of Asian or African-American descent.
While there is no cure for the disease, effective lupus treatment can help manage and control the symptoms. For patients in the New England area, state-of-the-art lupus treatment can be found at the Lupus Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), where expert care can help many patients with the disease to live full and healthy lives.
Lupus is a multisystem autoimmune disease, which affects many organ systems including the skin, the joints, the heart, lungs, kidneys and central nervous system. In this video, Bonnie Lee Bermas, MD, Director of the Lupus Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital describes how BWH rheumatologists collaborate with physicians in other disciplines such as nephrology, cardiology, neurology and obstetrics, to provide advanced lupus treatment. She also describes BWH research studying the causes of lupus and evaluation of new therapies for lupus treatment.
At the Lupus Center at BWH, eight board-certified rheumatologists work with specialists in Neurology, Nephrology, Dermatology and Cardiology to deliver comprehensive and coordinated patient care. These specialists see more than 700 patients with lupus each year and, as faculty at the Harvard Medical School, they train medical students, residents and rheumatology fellows in the latest research and treatment for lupus. BWH physicians have developed a wealth of educational material for patients, including educational seminars, a patient advisory board and a biannual newsletter.
Patients at the Lupus Center may receive a variety of therapies, including the latest lupus treatment options: immunosuppression therapy, where abnormalities in the immune system are suppressed; and targeted B-cell therapies, where white blood cells are stimulated to produce antibodies.
The Lupus Center is part of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, one of the top programs in the country. In addition to lupus treatment, the Division provides comprehensive arthritis treatment, including osteoarthritis treatment. Patients here can also find rheumatology services that include:
Physicians at BWH are engaged in research collaborations to identify new possibilities for lupus treatment. BWH researchers are investigating the potential causes of the disease – including dietary factors, environmental exposure and reproductive hormones. Researchers are also evaluating methods for testing new lupus treatments, and are investigating the role that environmental exposure to hazardous waste sites may have played in outbreaks of lupus in several Boston neighborhoods.
Learn more about lupus treatment at BWH, as well as other services of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, including spondylitis treatment, treatment of osteoporosis, vasculitis treatment and more.
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