According to the Lupus Research Institute (LRI), there is a connection between lupus and heart disease that young women need to be alerted to. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than one million American women and causes the body to make antibodies against itself, can be very serious and life-threatening - emphasis on "can." I have lupus, but no history of heart disease or indication thereof, so far. Knock on my wooden head!
The connection between lupus and heart disease is not yet clear, even though it is apparently not unusual. According to a report in the December 2003 New England Journal of Medicine, lupus patients under the age of 40 "are nearly five times more likely to have atherosclerosis than healthy counterparts from the same age group" and as many as one third of patients with lupus "have coronary arteries as stiff and plaque-filled as people twice their age." Scary.
So, how does a lupus patient fight back? The LRI is among researchers hunting for the answer.
Personally, my medical team has helped me lower my cholesterol (when I didn't even know it was high), manage my RA and chronic kidney issues and other issues that tag along with this chronic condition. Fortunately, my physicians embrace homeopathic, non-surgical alternatives, so I'm not being plugged full of prescription drugs and steroids. My healthful eating habits and active lifestyle, although sometimes brought to a halt by a relapse, contribute to my relatively good quality of life.
I just worry whether my future grandchildren will "inherit" what I did from my grandfather. Actor James Garner encourages young women to "get into the loop" about this disease, as his daughter also has it.
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