May 10th is World Lupus Day. Lupus is the name given to a group of chronic immune diseases. The most common form of Lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), occurs when the body’s immune system begins to malfunction and attack healthy tissue in various parts of the body, causing inflammation and damage. Tissues affected can include the skin, joints, muscles, kidneys, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and brain. While anyone can be impacted by lupus, it tends to occur most often in women between the ages of 15 and 45. To celebrate World Lupus Day, we are highlighting #CRArthritis interviews which feature important information on the topic of lupus and its psychosocial impacts.
Dr. Betty Diamond is considered one of the world’s experts on lupus. Throughout her career, she has uncovered landmark findings related to lupus. In this interview, Dr. Diamond explains how her research has shown that patients may experience invisible cognitive impairments and mood disturbances as a part of their disease process. This is a very important finding as many lupus patients may have been told in the past that these are ‘imagined’ symptoms. This is particularly true, she says, for young women who are more likely to have their symptoms questioned by family members and healthcare professionals than their male counterparts. Dr. Diamond says that equity and quality of care for women’s health have improved as more women have become healthcare professionals, something especially important in the field of lupus where young women are most impacted by the disease.
Dr. Paul Fortin’s also covers psychosocial impacts of lupus in this interview. His research focuses on how to address and improve quality of live for people living with lupus. He notes that living well with lupus requires more than medication treatment as patients between 40-50 years old with about ten years of disease are scoring very low in quality of life measures. How can lupus patients have a better quality of sleep, maintain their job, and have access to exercise? Dr. Fortin suggests that patients visit MyLupusGuide, a helpful Canadian resource that addresses some of these questions.