In findings from a new global survey, nearly half (44 per cent) of the expert healthcare professionals (HCPs) surveyed across seven countries reported that the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors prevented some people living with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) from getting optimal care in the past two years, increasing their risk for organ damage.
Organ damage, which occurs most commonly in the kidneys, skin, and heart, is a key determinant of poor long-term prognosis in SLE. Delays in care – such as those experienced during the pandemic as reported by survey respondents – can be critical, as organ damage can occur in up to 48 per cent of people living with lupus, most within five years of diagnosis.
Lupus flares can also increase the risk of organ damage, and some surveyed HCPs report that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of their patients experienced an increase in flares compared to pre-pandemic.
The survey of 648 rheumatologists, nephrologists and internal medicine specialists offers global insight into the range of factors that, in addition to the pandemic, contribute to the increased risk some lupus patients have for developing organ damage, such as lupus nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure and is one of the most common complications of SLE.
Dr Rajeev Raghavan, nephrologist, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Houston Tilman Fertitta Family College of Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor, Baylor College of Medicine said: “Organ damage is a very real risk for people living with lupus and these survey results underscore the critical need for improved tools and guidelines.”
Mike Donnelly, Vice President of Communications, Lupus Foundation of America (Secretariat of the World Lupus Federation) said: “Some of these findings echo what we know about the experiences of people with lupus and organ damage.
“These important conversations are happening between people with lupus and their doctors, but more action is needed and should be happening at diagnosis if we are going to truly reduce the burden of organ damage on people with lupus and their families.” – The Health