Lupus Can Affect Patients’ Self-Esteem, Body Image

By Meenakshi Jolly, MD

Look Good…Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. It is open to all women with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or other forms of treatment.

We feel that programs such as Look Good…Feel Better, or any aesthetic training resources, would greatly benefit patients with autoimmune diseases, especially lupus. Our lupus patients need our support too, and what better way than to provide them with aesthetic skills and resources to face their daily challenges with greater confidence? Is that too much to hope for?

Let me tell you about lupus now, since you may not know about it. It is an autoimmune disease. What do I mean by that? Usually our immune system mounts a fight for a valid reason, e.g. infection or when it sees something that does not belong to the body. Once this intrusion is over, our immune system declares peace. However, in people with autoimmune diseases like lupus, the immune system mounts a war for not a very valid reason. It begins to fight cells of our own body that are very much destined to be within our body. This may lead to inflammation within various organs in the body, and damage to the organs if not controlled. Any organ may be affected. Continue reading

The Lupus-Heart Disease Link

By Meenakshi Jolly, MD

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, usually affects women who are in their 20s to 40s and have a high risk of early heart disease.

Usually when we think of women with heart disease or at risk of heart disease, we think of someone in an older age group, and possibly in a setting of high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, smoking or a family history of early age heart disease. These risk factors are called “traditional risk factors.”

Recently, the American Heart Association released 2011 updates on guidelines to prevent heart disease in women, and for the first time included lupus and rheumatoid arthritis as conditions that put women at an increased risk for heart disease. Is this truly a new risk factor?

Lupus is marked by inflammation in various organs, caused by the immune system’s fight against the body’s own cells. If this inflammation remains untreated or uncontrolled, it leads to damage, which becomes irreversible with time. This inflammation and damage can occur in any of the organs/systems of the body. Though some of the inflammation and damage may be visible to a patient or physician, e.g. in the skin or joints, frequently it may not be visible, perceptible or easily measurable. Continue reading