People with lupus who were treated with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an anti-malarial drug, early after a diagnosis of lupus had less cumulative organ damage at three years after diagnosis than those who did not receive HCQ, according to a new analysis.
New Findings Show Damage Resulting from Lupus is a Potentially Modifiable Outcome
(San Diego, California) October 28, 2013 – According to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, researchers have identified three potentially modifiable risk factors and one protective medication that may improve the health of people living with lupus.
Dr. Ian Bruce of the University of Manchester, UK and his team studied factors that might contribute to the development and progression of tissue and organ damage as well as the relationship between that damage and long-term survival rates. They found that increased disease activity, high blood pressure, and steroid use were associated with worsening damage, and the use of antimalarials protected against worsening damage from lupus.
The investigators recruited nearly 1,800 patients between 2000 and 2011 and enrolled them in the study within 15 months of meeting the criteria for having lupus. All patients had a careful annual follow-up that included details of their lupus and its treatment, as well as details regarding other conditions they may have, and other treatments they were taking. Participants were analyzed for changes in the amount of irreversible damage they experienced over the study period using the ACR/SLICC Damage Index (called SDI).
The researchers found that patients with initial damage were more likely to increase their SDI at each follow-up visit. They also found several factors that were associated with an increased risk of developing or increasing damage. These included older age, being of African ancestry within the USA, higher levels of inflammation, steroid use and high blood pressure.
This study shows that irreversible damage develops steadily over time in people with lupus and starts early in the course of the disease. However, many of the risk factors identified, such as high blood pressure, use of steroids and ongoing disease activity, could potentially be modified. Future clinical trials may be able to test whether doctors can improve the long-term health of lupus patients by specifically targeting these risk factors in their patients.
Link to ACR press release: New Findings Show Damage Resulting From Lupus is a Potentially Modifiable Outcome
Link to abstract: https://ww2.rheumatology.org/apps/MyAnnualMeeting/Abstract/33770
The findings highlight specific kinds of changes in lupus biomarkers that are most associated with effective use of belimumab in the treatment of lupus.