Systemic lupus erythematosus
If your symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are mild or well-controlled, you may findit barely affects your day-to-day life and you don't have any complications.
However, for some people, SLE can be a more serious conditionthat can cause life-threatening complications. Some ofthesecomplications are outlined below.
Aroundone in every three people with SLEdevelops a potentially serious kidney disease called lupus nephritis, caused by prolonged inflammation of the kidneys.
Lupus nephritis tends to develop relatively early in the course of SLE, usually within five years of diagnosis.
Symptoms of lupus nephritis can include:
Lupus nephritis can also cause high blood pressure (hypertension). If left untreated, it can put you at risk of developing life-threatening problems such as a heart attack or stroke .
In many cases, lupus nephritis doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms. However, this doesn't mean the condition isn't dangerous, as the kidneys could still be being damaged.
If you have SLE, it's likely you'll need to have regular blood tests so the condition of your kidneys can be carefully monitored. If you develop lupus nephritis, it can usually be successfully controlled using immunosuppressants.
In a small number of cases, the kidney damage can become severe enough to require treatment with dialysis (where a machine is used toreplicate many of the kidneys' functions) or a kidney transplant .
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for any type of health condition that affects the heart and arteries. It's often associated with blood clots and atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
Examples of CVD include:
People with SLE are more likely to develop CVDthan the general population, because SLE can cause your heart and arteries to become inflamed and damaged.
If you have SLE, you can reduce your risk of CVD by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
This is known as neonatal lupus syndrome.
If you have SLE and are thinking of having a baby, it's best to plan this carefully with your doctors if possible.
The risk of complications is higher if you become pregnant during periods where your symptoms are particularly severe. You'll usually be advised to try to avoid getting pregnant until your symptoms are better controlled.
If you do become pregnant, you'll need to be monitored closely by your specialist andby an obstetrician, so they can check for any problems.
Read about lupus, a complex and poorly understood condition that affects many parts of the body. It causes symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening
Read about the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which can vary widely from person to person. Some people may only experience a few mild symptoms
Read about the causes of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is an autoimmune condition, which means it's caused by problems with the immune system
Read about diagnosing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which can be difficult as it has similar symptoms to several other conditions
Read about treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). There's currently no cure for SLE but treatments that can ease the symptoms and make it easier to live with are available
Read about complications of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). If SLE is mild or well-controlled, you may find it barely affects your day-to-day life