|Purple reigns at tea party|
Published: May 22, 2012
It was a parade of purple as lupus survivors and supporters, donned the royal color to attend the Purple Hat Tea Party at St. Matthew’s Anglican Parish Hall hosted by Lupus Bahamas 242 to raise funds for research of the disease.
The illness occurs more commonly in females than in males with a ratio of 11 females to one male, according to Dr. Patrick Whitfield who works out of the Oxford Medical Center. He said the disease affects women in their childbearing years normally in their 20s and 30s. In the United States, statistics show 52 cases per 100,000 are diagnosed with lupus. With this in mind the physician says if the Bahamian population follows a similar trend it is likely that with a population of about 400,000 that over 200 people are diagnosed with the illness.
Like many chronic diseases, lupus sometimes takes a while to be recognized and properly treated according to Dr. Whitfield. He said this is because the symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses and as a result sometimes people underestimate their problem. He said the constitutional symptoms of lupus include fatigue, fever, joint pain, weight changes, muscular and skeletal pain (joints of the hands, wrists), skin changes, photo sensitivity and hair loss.
Dr. Whitfield said that although lupus can seem depressing and is very painful, the mortality rate for this disease is relatively low. There is an 80 percent chance that patients will make it to at least 15 years after diagnosis. Also with regular care and treatment, mortality is also greatly reduced. However, there is a 50 percent chance that people with lupus will suffer from kidney disease, which is difficult and if it leads to kidney failure it can decrease their life expectancy. He also said that reports show that about a third of all lupus patients in the U.S. died below the age of 45, but even so chances were still good for people with the disease to live a relatively normal life if they are on the right medication and are vigilant about their health.
If lupus is left unmanaged people run the risk of developing symptoms that affect the kidneys and lead to failure with each new relapse, said the medical practitioner. Neuro-psychiatric features like seizures, psychosis with hallucination, delirium and meningitis can also occur. Sometimes antibodies can attack the spine so patients can develop a weakness in their lower body making it difficult to walk. Strokes can also happen as well as a cognitive disorder similar to Alzheimer’s. Untreated patients or those who are lax in their follow-ups, even with a relapse can eventually get lung and heart diseases like pleurisy or pericarditis respectively which are illness where the linings of the organs are inflamed.
Dr. Whitfield said early treatment can decrease the damage that the disease can cause and allow a person diagnosed with lupus to live a normal life. He said it’s a disease that should be taken seriously.
Lupus Bahamas 242 was officially launched last month with the goal of increasing information and providing for people living with lupus in The Bahamas.