People in Lupus Remission Can Successfully Discontinue Prednisone When Withdrawal is Gradual
Although abrupt withdrawal from corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone) has been associated with increased risk of lupus flares, new research finds that people with prolonged lupus remission can successfully stop taking the medication when it is discontinued gradually. In fact, slowly phasing out the medication was not only safe in people with inactive lupus but was also associated with fewer flares and less damage accrual compared to maintaining a low prednisone dose.
The study included a total of 204 people with lupus in clinical remission for two years in a row. Half (102) maintained a low and steady prednisone dose over two years (5 mg of prednisone per day), while the other half slowly reduced their dosage over many months and eventually stopped taking the drug entirely. By the end of the first year, people in the prednisone withdrawal group had fewer flares than those in the maintenance group. After two years, those who had discontinued the medication continued to have fewer flares, including fewer moderate to severe flares. They also had less frequent damage accrual compared to those maintaining a low dose of prednisone.
Corticosteroids like prednisone are commonly referred to as “steroids.” These drugs help fight inflammation, and they are commonly used in the treatment of lupus. However, with long-term use, the side effects of higher doses of the medication can be significant. The latest findings are very encouraging, suggesting that it is possible to gradually stop taking prednisone and maintain clinical remission in lupus.
Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Learn more about corticosteroids and other medications used to treat lupus.
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