Doha – To highlight World Lupus Day and create awareness of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a serious and disabling autoimmune disease, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) organized a series of events for staff, patients, and the local community.

As part of the events organized to acknowledge the day, HMC clinicians attended a symposium to discuss lupus, its symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment options. Patients and their caregivers have been invited to attend a networking event tomorrow, to raise awareness of the disease. The event is meant to ensure patients are in communication with their healthcare team and know that early diagnosis is crucial to preventing long-term consequences of the illness.

Dr. Samar Al-Emadi, Head of Hamad General Hospital’s Rheumatology Section, said according to international figures, an estimated five million people worldwide have lupus. It is thought to be most common among women of childbearing age. “Lupus could be very challenging to treat during pregnancy and it can lead to both mother and fetus losing their life.” Dr. Al-Emadi has established a specialized clinic to look after pregnant women living with lupus and their fetus. The clinic is thought to be the first of its kind in the Middle East. Since its establishment, the clinic has been recording excellent outcomes among patients.

“The exact cause of lupus is not known. However, its symptoms can come and go over a long period of time. The symptoms also change over time making lupus difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms include joint pain, skin rashes, overwhelming fatigue, and fever that last for days or weeks,” Dr. Abdel Rahiem Saim, Senior Consultant Rheumatologist at HMC explained.

He noted that early diagnosis and expert medical care is essential for better health outcomes. “SLE can be controlled and with proper treatment, the majority of patients should lead a normal life. However, poor compliance with the treatment could lead to very severe illness, kidney failure, and even death. It is our hope that this awareness day will increase the profile of lupus, which unfortunately is common in our community compared to western countries,” he added.

“We are glad to have this opportunity to create awareness of SLE through our activities marking World Lupus Day and also to increase public understanding of this disease. We would like to emphasize that lupus is not as rare as people may believe. Each week, we follow up with almost 100 individuals showing signs of lupus. Out of these patients, two to three are hospitalized due to the disease,” said Dr. Abdul-Wahab Al-Allaf, Senior Rheumatologist at HMC.

He added that previously a diagnosis of lupus was fatal, with many patients succumbing to the disease. “With recent advances in medicine, the majority of SLE patients today should lead normal lives. However, if untreated, SLE can be a life-threatening disease. It is caused by disturbances in the immune system. For unknown reasons the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal and healthy tissues, including the kidneys, lungs, brain and heart.” (QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency