Lupus - 2001 National Meeting Reports (cont.)

Introduction

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory condition that is caused by autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to fight infections and other foreign invaders. Patients with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that target their own body tissues. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. Generally, when only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Estrogen Replacement Issues

Hormone (estrogen) replacement that is given to postmenopausal women did not increase disease activity. It did, however, increase clotting events.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: The question as to whether or not estrogens given to lupus women could actually cause their lupus to worsen has been debated for some time now. This study showed that they did not exacerbate the lupus and were well tolerated. However, there was a slight increase risk of clotting events, such as phlebitis. I generally avoid estrogens, both in the form of hormone replacement and in the form of birth control, in lupus women who have antiphospholipid antibodies (such as cardiolipin antibodies) because of their association with clotting events.


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