FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks and Hispanics appear more likely than whites to develop the most common form of the autoimmune disease lupus and to develop more severe complications from it, new research shows.
Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic inflammatory disease that often affects the joints, kidneys, blood and nervous system, is generally known to strike women more often than men and some ethnic groups more than others. Its severity can range from mild to fatal.
The study, published in the summer issue of the journal Ethnicity & Disease, was based on six years of data from lupus patients in Dallas-Fort Worth-area hospitals. The researchers found that white patients were half as likely as other ethnic groups to have the disease.
Hispanic women tended to have the most severe lupus cases, which often were complicated by the presence of other diseases. These women, for example, had a 61 percent greater chance of having kidney inflammation -- or nephritis -- in addition to lupus, and a 55 percent greater likelihood of also having diabetes, the study found.
In all, Hispanic and black patients with SLE were twice as likely as whites to also have nephritis, kidney failure and inflammation of the heart lining, all of which complicate the treatment and severity of the disease, according to the researchers.
"Ethnic minority populations have a higher incidence of severe SLE for several reasons, such as a lower socioeconomic status, barriers to adequate health care and genetic predisposition," lead author Katie Crosslin, a research scientist at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about lupus.