Howard R. Smith: Well, what is lupus? Lupus is a type of arthritis where the body starts attacking itself. Its called an autoimmune disease. The cells of the immune system start attacking the kidneys, the skin, and the joints, and people with lupus end up with inflammation in their joints and swelling and arthritis. They also can end up with kidney disease, but most patient with lupus have skin rashes, that is, they can have a butterfly rash over their cheeks.
Now lupus is seen predominantly in women. Its nine times more common in women than in men, and particularly common in African-American women. About one in 250 African-American develop lupus and about one in 400 or so Caucasian develop lupus. Lupus is seen in women of child-bearing age. We say basically 15-45. although can be see in other individuals as well.
So patients with lupus end up with rashes, fatigue, arthritis, but they can also end up with disease of heart, kidneys, the lungs, blood, and the brain.