Dr. Rajeev Raghavan Discusses Data on Lupus and COVID-19 (Pt. 2)

Before you read on, don’t forget to check out Part 1 of our interview. In Part 1, Dr. Raghavan discussed his background, explained what lupus is, and introduced some of the findings from the GSK survey results on COVID-19, lupus, organ damage, and patient care. Today, Dr. Raghavan discusses the importance of preventative care, as well as offers advice for patients in their journey. 

Understanding the Importance of Preventative Care in Lupus

Of course, there are also concerns associated with medication that need to be considered. 72% of healthcare providers surveyed shared their belief that the current standards-of-care could reduce the risk of organ damage in patients with lupus. However, research has shown not only that this isn’t true, but that steroids could contribute to organ damage.

To solve this, Dr. Raghavan says, the first step we should take is understanding what organ damage actually is. He explains:

“The definition of organ damage in the survey is really broad. It’s hard to pinpoint what the damage is and when it occurs. People can donate a kidney or are born with a kidney and live a normal, healthy life. So how much damage do you have to have in an organ to really say that it’s been damaged to the point where it will affect quality-of-life? Is that damage due to the disease or to medications? Sometimes it isn’t easy to tease out what is the medications versus the disease itself, but I think it’s important to reconcile this.”

Defining organ damage, and developing better tools to monitor disease activity and markers, will be critically important to better treating and understanding lupus.

Moving forward, this data could be used to spark earlier conversations between patients and HCPs, learn what will best benefit patients, and optimize monitoring. In the meantime, shares Dr. Raghavan:

“We hope that more people will be comfortable going to the lab so that we can recognize, catch, and treat complications early.”

Advice for Patients

Right now, we are trying to understand the answer to a truly million dollar question: how do we prevent lupus and its effects?

Clearly, more research is needed. But in the meantime, Dr. Raghavan has some advice on how patients can begin transforming their lives for the better now. First, he says, is to consider the benefits of lifestyle medication. He says:

“It’s really important to know what is being put into your body and to reduce processed food, sodium, and eating out. We recommend whole food and plant-based diets. Beyond that, just having a good mindset, being in tune with your body, and practicing mindfulness and spiritual thinking has been helpful for many of my patients. Getting on track physically and mentally is worth the effort.”

Next, he says, patients and HCPs should discuss clinical trials and other research opportunities. He explains:

“Every patient is a trial patient. It doesn’t mean that we need to experiment on patients – we don’t want to do that. But to push our field forward, we need to see what trials are available, raise awareness of trials, and get the right patients to the right trial. We want to connect patients so that they can make the decision.

So if you’re interested in participating in research, don’t be afraid to sit down with your doctor and ask what is available. Even outside of research, this is a difficult-to-predict disease. We don’t know enough about why it occurs or why it occurs more severely in one person than another. So find a provider that you trust and have a good relationship with who can help you through this process.”

Finally, Dr. Raghavan advocates for patients to remain empowered and to stay on top of visits. In their own time, patients should stay educated about lupus, its effects, potential complications, and new advances in care and management. Patients should also ensure that they remain in touch with their providers and have labs or other testing done in a timely fashion. Says Dr. Raghavan:

“With education and a team that you trust, you’re already ahead of the curve.”

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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