COVID-19 and Lupus: Hospitalization and Other Risks

A recent study that utilized the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance registry has evaluated the risks that the novel coronavirus brings to those with lupus and other rheumatic diseases, as reported by the Lupus Foundation of America. These findings give some answers to rare disease patients in the world of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

About Lupus

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue. Lupus causes inflammation, pain, and in severe cases, tissue damage to the joints, kidney, skin heart, lungs, and brain. People who have lupus can experience flare-ups, in which the symptoms are at their worst, and periods of remission, where they have little to no pain. Every case is different, and people experience various levels of severity. Lupus also disproportionately affects females and people of African American, Asian, and American Indian descent. It is also an invisible illness, meaning that there are no external factors that are noticeable to others. Because of this, many people go without a diagnosis. In fact, an average of six years passes between the onset of symptoms and the medical diagnosis for lupus, according to The Lupus Foundation of America. While there is no cure for lupus, treatment does exist. It is a lifelong process, and it can help to reduce flare-ups and pain.

About the Findings

According to the study, which evaluated 600 cases of people with rheumatic diseases and COVID-19, those with rheumatic diseases who take more than ten mg of man-made steroids daily are at a higher risk of hospitalization. In fact, of the 600 cases that were studied, nearly half of them resulted in hospitalization. Other factors that heightened the risk included being older than 65, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, end-stage kidney disease, and diabetes.

On the other hand, certain drugs were found to lower the odds of hospitalization. These include biologics and Anti-TNF-alpha. Anti-malarial drugs and NSAIDS were not found to have an impact on one’s risk of hospitalization, as they did not increase the chance but did not lower them either.

All of this information will help those living with rheumatic diseases, like lupus, navigate the new, confusing world that COVID-19 has created. Hopefully medical professionals will continue to use data, such as this global registry, to better understand this virus and help those who are at risk.

You can read the entirety of the study here.


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