35 Life-Changing Lupus Statistics & Facts for 2021

Lupus Statistics

Imagine if your body just started attacking itself? Suppose you got ill for no other reason than your body taking you as such. Well, that’s what lupus is all about. In this article on lupus statistics, we’ll mostly be covering Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). There are four kinds of lupus, but the most common type by far is this one.  

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that convinces your entire immune system to wage war on your own tissue, thinking there was a problem when, in fact, there was nothing wrong to begin with. 

The symptoms of lupus include everything from skin rashes, painful joints, and sun sensitivity to organ problems, seizures, and even psychosis. It affects many lives and people affected by this disease often require assistance to perform everyday tasks, lose productivity at work, and spend thousands of dollars on medical treatment.  

Top 10 Facts and Lupus Statistics for 2021

  • About 5 million people worldwide suffer from some form of lupus.
  • 16,000 new lupus cases emerge in the US annually.
  • 90% of people suffering from lupus are women.
  • The risk of mortality is higher among Asian/Pacific Islanders by 43%.
  • 14% of Americans have never heard of lupus.
  • 10%–15% of lupus sufferers pass away prematurely due to health problems following the disease.
  • The cost of annual medical treatment ranges from $8,900 to $83,000.
  • People with lupus are not at a higher risk of getting hospitalized due to COVID-19
  • Lupus sufferers are called “lupus warriors.”
  • Almost 20% of patients with rheumatologic diseases used cannabis for pain relief.

Seeing how this disease affects so many people and yet so little is known about it, we’ll be looking at 30 plus shocking statistics and facts about this disease. 

General Statistics About Lupus

How many people have been diagnosed with lupus, and is this disease more prevalent among men or women?

1. About 5 million people worldwide suffer from some form of lupus.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Unfortunately, because the disease can be difficult to diagnose and can go misdiagnosed for years, this number may be lower than the actual number of people afflicted by this disease. 

Hopefully, with some more research, there will be a more accurate number in the near future. 

2. Lupus statistics show that the disease usually occurs in people aged between 15 and 44.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

An autoimmune disease most commonly develops in this period of a person’s life. Although, it must be said that it can still develop in children, teens, and older people. 

3. 16,000 new lupus cases emerge in the US annually.

(Medical News Today)

The number of people living with lupus in the US is 1.5 million. Nevertheless, this is just the number of people who have been properly diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune disease. The actual figures could be far more prominent if we consider the people who are left undiagnosed and untreated.  

4. Lupus prevalence by country stats rank the US as the number one country when it comes to worldwide incidence and prevalence of SLE.

(Oxford Academic)

The US ranks relatively high, but that might just be due to the disease’s extensive knowledge (and research). Either way, the lowest prevalence was recorded in Northern Australia.

5. 90% of people suffering from lupus are women.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

The majority of patients with lupus are, in fact, women during their most fertile years (15–44). Estrogen is known to play a role in the development of the disease.

6. When lupus symptoms are most obvious, it is called a “flare.”

(Lupus Foundation of America)

This is when a person suffering from lupus will experience pain the most. 

There is no set time as to how long these flares will last and they can consist of any number of symptoms. These are usually followed by a period of relief where the symptoms are less severe or even non-existent. 

7. Interesting facts about lupus and family report that 20% of lupus sufferers have a parent or a sibling that is also battling the condition.

(World Lupus Day)

Genetics are known to play a part in the occurrence of lupus. It is estimated that 5% of people with a biological parent who suffers from lupus will eventually develop the disease themselves.  

8. Lupus nephritis is prevalent among 52% of Asian/Pacific Islanders. 

(NCBI)

Compared to Whites, Blacks and Hispanics are also at a higher risk of developing thrombocytopenia and antiphospholipid syndrome. Whereas the latter is more prevalent among Asian/Pacific Islanders, neuropsychiatric lupus is not very common among Hispanics. 

9. Lupus is two to three times more common in women of color.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Based on one study, one in 537 African-American women suffers from lupus in their childbearing years. Lupus statistics also show that women of color suffer from lupus at a much younger age, have more severe symptoms, and are more likely to die from the disease. 

10. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease and the symptoms often appear for a period of six weeks or longer. 

(World Lupus Day)

While the period of time is often more than six weeks, these symptoms could last months or even multiple years at a time. It is treatable with certain medications.  

11. Lupus death rate shows that the risk of mortality is higher among Asian/Pacific Islanders by 43%. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

One of the most frequent causes of death among people diagnosed with lupus is a heart attack, in addition to cardiovascular diseases. That said, kidney failure was the number one culprit in the past, but thanks to the development of therapies, access to dialysis, and kidney transplantations, today’s numbers show us a massive decrease in lupus deaths caused by kidney failure.  

Lupus Facts On Most Common Types

How many types of lupus exist? What are their consequences and how do they affect one’s lifestyle?

12. There are four categories of lupus, but we generally focus on just one — SLE.

(Lupus Foundation of America) (Verywell Health)

These include systemic lupus erythematosus, neonatal lupus, cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and, finally, drug-induced lupus erythematosus

The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is by far the most common form of lupus (70%) and therefore when people discuss lupus, they focus primarily on this one. The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can affect your organs and more.

13. Common lupus symptoms include skin rashes, fevers, exhaustion, painful joints, sensitivity to sunshine, and more.

(CDC)

More severe symptoms include oral ulcers, arthritis, heart issues, lung issues, kidney issues, psychosis, seizures, as well as immunology and blood cell abnormalities. 

14. 14% of Americans have never heard of lupus. 

(Statista)

Based on the stats from 2019, only 16% of Americans reported being familiar with lupus and its symptoms, compared to 30% of people who said they only heard about this disease but knew very little about its symptoms. 

In addition to that, 19% of Americans have heard about lupus disease, but they knew nothing about its symptoms or treatment, whereas 20% were familiar with lupus and some of its symptoms. 

15. 10% of people living with cutaneous lupus erythematosus end up with SLE. 

(Medical News Today)

According to statistics, this is correct, yet it is unknown whether these people have always had SLE but only initially showed the symptoms of cutaneous lupus erythematosus

Lupus Treatment and Diagnosis

Can lupus be treated, and which medications are used in therapies?  

16. Almost half of all lupus sufferers wait four years or longer for a proper diagnosis from a medical practitioner. 

(Verywell Health)

Research shows that 50% of people diagnosed with this chronic autoimmune disease experienced symptoms for four years or longer before receiving the correct diagnosis. 

The majority of these people visited three different doctors before being correctly diagnosed with lupus. 

17. Lupus facts and statistics show around 63% of people suffering from lupus received an incorrect diagnosis in the beginning. 

(Lupus Fighters of America)

The common occurrence of misdiagnosis in lupus is highly likely as it shares the same symptoms as other illnesses (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea, dermatomyositis).  

Doctors often diagnose a patient based on one or a few of the symptoms. This just goes to show that people have to be more knowledgeable on matters like how is lupus diagnosed and what are the most common treatments. 

18. There are four main types of medications used in treatment.

(Lupus News Today

The medications used in the treatment of lupus are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs (containing hydroxychloroquine), corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants.

The side effects vary from stomach problems and mood swings to heart disease risks.  

19. For 65% of patients chronic pain is the most problematic aspect of the autoimmune disease, facts about lupus imply.

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Chronic pain can impact a person’s life to the point where they lose most of their productivity at work due to constant pain or because they find it difficult to manage day-to-day tasks. 

Lupus Mortality Statistics

How often do people die from lupus?

20. Records of fatalities related to lupus have been rising over the past 20 years. 

(Verywell Health) (Verywell Health) (Lupus Foundation of America)

That might just be due to more people receiving the correct diagnosis and are therefore being accounted for in the statistics. Nevertheless, according to lupus survival rate statistics, 85% to 90% of patients get to live as much as the average healthy person. 

21. 10%–15% of lupus sufferers pass away due to health problems following the disease. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Of course, there is continued progress in new diagnosis and methods for managing lupus, so the numbers will hopefully drop even more in years to come. 

22. Studies have shown that lupus is in the top 20 causes of death in female patients aged 5–64. 

(Lupus Foundation of America)

Women are more likely to develop lupus than men, so this stat makes sense. 

Moreover, lupus statistics by race show that this rate is higher among African-American women and Hispanic women. For the ones between 15–24 years of age, lupus ranks 5th.

23. Lupus can cause patients to be at risk of catching other illnesses. 

(Mashable)

Lupus can lead to the patient being at risk of developing other illnesses, for example, renal disease, heart failure, blood pressure issues, or cardiovascular problems. 

Lupus Education Regarding Medical Costs

How expensive are the treatments for this autoimmune disease? 

24. Annual medical costs of lupus range from $8,900 for mild to $83,000 for severe symptoms. 

(Creaky Joints)

Given there’s no cure for lupus, it’s essential to keep the symptoms under control through various medical treatments to avoid complications and organ damage. The cost will, of course, depend on the severity of the symptoms that the person experiences. People with more severe cases of lupus could end up spending thousands of dollars on a monthly basis. 

25. Lupus stats report two-thirds of people suffering from lupus lost all or part of their income owing to lupus and its complications. 

(Verywell Health)

Patients who have been diagnosed with this autoimmune disease are more likely to stop working full time, due to lupus-related complications, which results in losing a big part of the income. 

Lupus and Coronavirus Connection

Are lupus warriors at a higher risk of getting infected with coronavirus?

26. It seems that lupus patients are not at a higher risk of getting hospitalized due to COVID-19.

(AJMC)

Based on two recent studies, the chances of getting hospitalized or dying from coronavirus are the same among the general population and lupus patients. However, this doesn’t mean that lupus patients are immune to covid

So, are people with lupus getting coronavirus more frequently? It seems not. Nevertheless, keep in mind that these two studies have been conducted on a small number of people and lupus can come with a range of other health problems. What’s more, we still don’t know everything about the new virus.

27. Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t reduce the covid mortality rates.

(NIH)

Hydroxychloroquine is a drug that’s used for the treatment of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. This drug became famous overnight due to some early coronavirus and lupus studies that used this drug to fight against the “invisible enemy.” 

In order to find out more information on hydroxychloroquine and its interaction, NIH decided to conduct 34 nationwide clinical trials. The results showed that hydroxychloroquine didn’t improve the outcome of the covid patients; additionally, it didn’t cause any harm either.  

Studies from Brazil and the UK exhibited similar outcomes. 

4 Fun Facts About Lupus

Here are some intriguing facts you should know about lupus.

28. The spoon tattoo represents lupus and other illnesses that result in chronic pain.

(Quartz)

The spoon tattoo, which has increased in popularity thanks to celebrities such as Paris Jackson and Macaulay Culkin, is based on “spoon theory” and has strong ties to lupus. 

The theory was conceived by blogger Christine Miserandino as a way to explain the limited amount of energy that lupus sufferers and those with other chronic illnesses live with. 

29. Lupus sufferers are called “lupus warriors.”

(Lupus News Today)

The term is meant to empower people with lupus. It makes them feel good about the fact that they’re overcoming many obstacles in order to live their lives as best they can with this vicious disease. 

People that have lupus don’t associate with the term “survivor” because it means they’ve won the battle. Lupus is something they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.  

30. Selena Gomez, Paula Abdul, Seal, Nick Cannon, and Lady Gaga are among the many celebrities who suffer from lupus. 

(Healthline) (Healthgrades)

Selena Gomez is just one of the celebrities who has been outspoken about being a lupus warrior. Others include Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton, Seal, Nick Cannon, Kristen Johnston, and more. 

Due to lupus population prevalence, it’s no wonder there are plenty of famous people who also suffer from this disease. 

31. The name “lupus” comes from the Latin word for “wolf.”

(Lupus Foundation of America

Rogerius, a physician from the 13th century, named the disease after the skin rash appearing on the faces of lupus patients. He claimed that the rash resembled a wolf bite. 

That’s why you’ll also find people with wolf tattoos — a way of symbolizing lupus. 

Medical Marijuana for Lupus Treatment

Can medical marijuana help fight this autoimmune disease?

32. Cannabis can help reduce bodily inflammation, which is a fairly common symptom.

(The Recovery Village)

What cannabis does is it reduces the levels of interleukin-2 (which causes inflammation) and raises the levels of an anti-inflammatory protein known as interleukin-19. 

33. Lupus sufferers don’t have to get high to enjoy relief from symptoms through the use of marijuana. 

(The Recovery Village)

CBD (cannabidiol), which doesn’t have any mind-altering effects, can help ease the symptoms of the chronic autoimmune disease. 

How to use CBD for lupus? You can vape it, put it beneath the tongue, take it as a capsule, or eat it in the form of an edible.

34. Lupus prevalence rates may be reduced with a new cannabis-based drug that is being researched.  

(Lupus Foundation of America)

This study is taking a look at a drug called Lenabasum (JBT-101), which is created via a synthetic cannabinoid and possesses no mind-altering properties whatsoever. The drug is meant to help with painful and inflamed joints experienced by lupus warriors. 

Lenabasum is expected to be approved by the FDA and released soon, although scientists have different opinions on cannabis and the immune system.

35. Lupus statistics show almost 20% of patients with rheumatologic diseases used cannabis for pain relief.

(PubMed)

Lupus is, along with fibromyalgia, one of the most common rheumatologic diseases that result in joint pain. To deal with pain, lupus patients are not limited to using only the classic analgesics. One study shows that cannabis can be an effective tool against pain, even though more research on the subject is needed.   

Final Thoughts

What the above lupus awareness facts show us is that it is possible to live a full and healthy life with the disease, but it’s important to have all the facts. Hopefully, more people will become aware of lupus, making it easier to diagnose earlier on. 

While not a whole lot of research has been done on the medical benefits of cannabis for lupus warriors, it does contain properties that help with pain and inflammation. 

With more studies on lupus statistics being done in the future, we hope that the effects of cannabis on the disease will become more clear. 

FAQs

What is the financial cost of lupus?

The annual cost varies from $8,900 to $83,000, depending on the symptoms. The more damage a person incurs with lupus, the more they will end up paying. For example, someone with a bad case of SLE that causes extreme damage will pay almost nine times as much compared to someone who experienced only minor damage. 

How many people in the USA have lupus?

1.5 million Americans or 1 in 200 people have this autoimmune disease, while the 90% of the diagnosed are women. It’s not easy to estimate the correct number of people suffering from this autoimmune disease since doctors are not required to write a report on the exact number of cases.    

What percentage of the population has lupus?

It’s estimated that about 5 million people worldwide have some form of lupus. Since this disease is often misdiagnosed and many people don’t know how to recognize its symptoms, it’s hard to get an accurate number. What’s more, the symptoms associated with lupus include the same symptoms some other diseases have (like Hashimoto’s disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, or fibromyalgia).

What are the odds of having lupus?

First of all, women are at a higher risk of developing this autoimmune disease. Secondly, the first symptoms most commonly occur in people who are 15-44 years old. The odds of developing lupus are higher among people of color. And lastly, people who have relatives with lupus have a 5%-13% chance of developing this disease. 5% of children are in danger of lupus if the mother has it.

What are the 11 criteria for lupus?

The 11 criteria and lupus signs include the following:

  • A rash on the face, specifically on the cheeks and the nose
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Skin rashes
  • Ulcers in the nose or mouth
  • Neurological issues, including seizures and even psychosis
  • Inflammation in multiple joints due to non-erosive arthritis
  • Blood cell abnormalities, including damaged red blood cells causing anemia, a low count of platelets, and a low count of white blood cells
  • Antinuclear antibodies
  • Immune system attacking healthy cells (immunological disorder)
  • Kidney damage or issues
  • Inflammation in the heart or lungs.

(Lupus Research Alliance)

Is lupus considered a rare disease?

No, it is not. There are 1.5 million Americans suffering from it, while the Orphan Drug Act defines a rare disease as one that has fewer than 200,000 people suffering from it.

Some types of lupus, though, are rarer than the others. In that respect, we can consider some lupus forms to be defined as rare diseases. The cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) affects 1-5 people out of 10,000 people.

How long do people live with lupus?

85% to 90% of lupus patients go on to live for normal periods of time despite having the disease. Yet, 10% to 15% may die prematurely due to complications caused by the disease. Thanks to the many improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus (e.g., access to dialysis and kidney transplantations), for the most part, the lupus life expectancy is that of a normal person.

How many people die annually from lupus?

Based on the most recent research and death certificates, it’s estimated that about 1,176 people die from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) each year. Given that lupus affects many areas of the body, like the heart, lungs, blood and blood vessels, brain and central nervous system, and kidneys, lupus statistics show that the most common cause of death in patients is a heart attack, cardiovascular diseases, and kidney failure

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