a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 594.4 

Guest: Dr. Michele Petri, head of the Lupus Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital 

Topic: Lupus  

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: Understanding lupus....coming up... 

SPOT: For 15 years, the National Emergency Medicine Association has worked against stroke, heart disease and trauma. Join the effort, call 800-332-6362. 

NEMA: Long known as a mystery disease...lupus is now better defined than ever....Dr. Michele Petri of Johns Hopkins hospital...  

PETRI: The basic thing that goes wrong is that the immune system, which is supposed to fight infection, starts to attack normal body organs. The most common organs that are attacked are the skin, causing skin rashes...the kidneys, causing kidney failure...and the joints, which can cause terrible swelling, what we call polyarthritis, because it’s usually many joints at the same time that are affected.  

NEMA: But treatment is better than ever...  

PETRI: ..By giving medications that suppress the immune system. This isn’t a cure, though.There is certainly much better survival nowadays than there was in the 1950’s, when half the patients with lupus would die within 5 years. Now, the 20 year survival is 95% or better. However, the patients who survive...almost half of them are surviving with permanent organ damage. So, the quality of life of patients with lupus is not very good. In fact, it’s about equal to the quality of the life of patients who have HIV infection.  

NEMA: New research on lupus, next time...I’m Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.