For Lupus Center Patients and Families

The Lupus Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is dedicated to treating patients with lupus and is committed to participating in innovative research.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects over 5 million people worldwide. While it is predominantly seen in women, anyone can get lupus. Lupus is also more common in African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Hawaiian women than in Caucasian women. There are multiple forms of lupus a person can develop, however in an estimated 70% of cases it is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE.

As seen with other autoimmune diseases, in lupus the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. The extent of the disease and type of symptoms vary per person. While one individual can have mild effects such as a rash and fever, other may experience major damage to organs such as the kidney or the heart. Common side effects include: swollen joints, muscle pain, fever, loss of hair, skin rash, headaches, and fatigue.

There is still much uncertainty about lupus, making research a necessity. The exact causes have not been identified and a cure has not yet been found. There is however, a wide range of medicines and treatments used to manage the symptoms of the disease and limit the amount of flares a person with lupus has.

For more information, please visit the BWH Health Information Library pages on lupus.

What is lupus? What are its symptoms? Who does it affect? Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH, Rheumatologist and Director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School, explains what causes lupus flare-ups and how it is treated.

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