The inflammation caused does not directly affect the heart, but it can speed up the emergence of blood clots. For patients who have had lupus for more than five years, cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death.
In most cases, the cause of of this disease is unknown, but some doctors believe that a combination of genetics and environment may result in lupus.
Certain environmental conditions may trigger the disease in people who are already genetically predisposed to lupus. These conditions include:
- Sunlight. People who are susceptible to the disease may experience skin lesions or other internal responses if they are exposed to the sun often.
- Infection. Infections can trigger flare ups or cause relapses.
- Medications. There are cases where flares are triggered by certain types of medications for blood pressure, as well as anti-seizure medicines and antibiotics. Patients get better after discontinuing the triggering medication.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients may experience a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms may develop slowly or quickly, and may be mild or severe. Symptoms may be temporary or permanent. Some patients experience flares or episodes, where lupus symptoms can get worse for a while, and then disappear for a period of time.
Symptoms depend on the affected area or body system. The common signs and symptoms are:
- Swelling, joint pain, and stiffness
- Skin lesions triggered by sun exposure
- Shortness of breath
- Headaches and memory loss
- Dry eyes and chest pains
- Exposure to cold temperature or stress can cause the fingers and toes to turn white
- Rashes on the body, most commonly, a butterfly-shaped rash covering the bridge of the nose and cheeks.
Lupus is hard to detect and diagnose because symptoms may mimic other illnesses. It is best to consult your doctor when you experience an unexplained and persistent rash, fever, fatigue or body aches.