Lupus Fact Sheet

How Lupus Affects Major Organ Systems
Lupus is a disease that causes inflammation to various parts of the body, including major organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. More than one-third of people with lupus will have organ-threatening disease where lupus seriously affects the function of major organ systems.

HEART OR LUNG INVOLVEMENT
Pericarditis: inflammation of the lining of the heart
Myocarditis: inflammation of the tissue of the heart
Coronary vasculitis: inflammation of blood vessels in the heart
Pleuritis: inflammation of the sac around the lung
Pneumonitis and/or fibrosis: inflammation and/or scarring of the lung
Pulmonary emboli: blood clots in the lung

BRAIN AND CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM INVOLVEMENT
Central nervous system vasculitis: inflammation of the blood vessels of the brain
Cognitive dysfunction: confusion, memory impairment, fatigue, possibly due to decreased blood flow or inflammation in the brain
Stroke: blood clots in the brain
Seizures: can be caused by brain inflammation, scarring, strokes, or medications
Myelitis: inflammation near the spinal cord
Blood clots in spinal arteries

KIDNEY INVOLVEMENT
Lupus nephritis or glomerulonephritis: inflammation of the kidneys which leads to loss of protein, fluid retention and edema (swelling)
Severe cases of lupus nephritis can cause kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplantation

BLOOD & BLOOD VESSEL INVOLVEMENT
Anemia: low red blood cell count
Thrombocytopenia: low blood platelet count with risk for bleeding
Leukopenia and neutropenia: low white blood cell count, from lupus or from treatment
Thrombosis: blood clots, often associated with antiphospholipid antibodies
Vasculitis: inflammation of the blood vessels

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