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RHBA hosts info session on Lupus – QNS.com

RHBA hosts info session on Lupus

Lupus affects nearly 1.5 million Americans, and it is one of the least recognized diseases by doctors. In order to raise awareness, the Richmond Hill Block Association (RHBA) played host to Doctor Meggan MacKay on Wednesday, March 26, who informed the audience of this growing problem.
Lupus, also known as Systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disorder that has the ability to target and destroy every organ in the body. The body’s immune system naturally protects itself from diseases, but lupus forms cells that attack normal tissues of organs including the skin, blood and heart.
The primary victims of lupus are women between the ages of 15 and 45, and they are usually of African-American, Hispanic or Native American descent. MacKay, a rheumatologist researcher and physician at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, explained that lupus does not only harm a person’s body, it also destroys families.
“It targets families because young women have children, and most of our patients have children. The children are very affected because their moms are so sick, whole families are affected,” said MacKay.
MacKay continued to explain that men are also susceptible to lupus, and the disease tends to be more aggressive when men are infected. African-American men diagnosed with lupus will most likely face a more severe strand of the disease.
Lupus has a variety of recognizable symptoms; doctors are currently trying to understand why the disease has so many debilitating signs. As of now doctors have no answers.
The most common symptoms of lupus are achy and/or swollen joins, high fevers, prolonged fatigue, skin rashes, anemia, swollen ankles, chest pain, unusual hair loss and seizures.
Because the symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed, doctors created the “Eleven Criteria of Lupus” in order to correctly diagnose lupus. Generally, doctors would need to find patients to have four or more of the criteria to occur before someone is diagnosed with lupus. Some of these criteria are a butterfly shaped rash on the face, a skin rash, photosensitivity, mouth or nose ulcers, joint swelling, psychosis or seizures, low white blood cell count, and kidney disorder. MacKay suggested that people who exhibit several of these symptoms should immediately contact their physician. Lupus has been known to affect people differently, and not everyone has the same symptoms.
There are a number of treatments to help cope with lupus that range from over-the-counter pain medication to prescription medicine. Depending on the extent of the disease, doctors also suggest dietary changes and lifestyle changes such as staying out of the sun, wearing sun block, and avoiding stress. MacKay briefly talked about the success of current clinical trials for patients that are in the later stages of lupus. “There are at least 10 clinical trials going on right now in phase 2 and phase 3, and many of them are showing promise,” said MacKay.
Even though the clinical trials are proving to be successful, there still is no cure for lupus. MacKay stressed the importance of early detection because immediate treatment has been known to lessen the development and severity of lupus. A new clinic located in Jamaica Hospital’s St. Albans facility allows residents to receive immediate care if they are diagnosed with lupus. The new facility also allows economically disadvantaged people to receive help free of charge.
“Jamaica set up this great clinic, this beautiful space in the St. Albans facility. We see patients there on Friday mornings. Many of our patients are undocumented and they don’t have insurance. They have no access to the financial resources to pay doctors; we have the ability to see patients without asking for payment,” said MacKay. “This is all part of community awareness and education, where if somebody has lupus right now in this day and age, there is treatment available.”

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