Lupus Prevalence Much Higher in Hispanic, Asian Women in Manhattan

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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Lupus is more prevalent among Hispanic and Asian women in Manhattan, and those women develop significantly greater organ complications, particularly kidney disease, a study from the NYU School of Medicine shows.

The research, “The Incidence and Prevalence of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in New York County (Manhattan), New York: The Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program,” was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease with very heterogeneous manifestations. But little is known about its distribution across racial and ethnic groups.

The Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program (MLSP) is a population-based registry set up to determine lupus prevalence in New York County (Manhattan) residents, and gain insight of disease prevalence by ethnicity.

MLSP is a joint venture between NYU Langone Health and New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), with the funding support of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Lupus can be difficult to diagnose,” study first author Peter Izmirly, MD, said in a press release. “Our findings should make health care providers more aware of the prevalence of lupus in these demographic groups, and hopefully make them consider the diagnosis, especially when patients come in with symptoms that could be consistent with lupus such as arthritis, rashes and signs of kidney disease.”

Izmirly also is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and Division of Rheumatology at NYU Langone, and co-principal investigator of the MLSP.

Two of the fastest-growing populations in the U.S. include Asians and Hispanics, but data for lupus prevalence among these populations is lacking. MLSP, along with the California Lupus Surveillance Project, also were set up to identify lupus incidence and prevalence among this part of the population. For that, authors reviewed medical records from 2007-2009 and determined lupus prevalence based on rheumatologists’ diagnoses and disease classification criteria.

Lupus prevalence among whites and blacks were in agreement with estimates published by the Michigan and Georgia registries. Specifically, per each 100,000 people, there were 51.4 white and 133.1 black patients diagnosed with lupus in a given year.

But the results showed that lupus was much more prevalent in Hispanics and Asians than in whites. Hispanics had a prevalence of 84.6 per 100,000 overall and 142.7 per 100,000 among women. The prevalence in Asians reached 75.5 per 100,000 overall, and 118.5 per 100,000 in women.

Moreover, lupus kidney disease – one of the complications of the disease – affected 49.4 percent of Hispanics and 53.2 percent of Asians, against 25.4 percent among Whites.

Overall, these results highlight the urgent need to improve timely diagnosis of lupus in these demographic groups, the research found.

“While this project highlights the disparities in lupus rates among Hispanic and Asian women, there is more work to do to determine the cause,” said study co-lead author Hilary Parton, MPH, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and co-principal investigator of the MLSP. “This project will help support future efforts to expand awareness and improve access to care for all people at risk of lupus.”