State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) encouraged Westchester residents to take a moment to learn about lupus, a chronic disease that, for unknown reasons, causes inflammation and serious damage to different parts of the body. While many women know the signs and health risks of breast cancer, few know about lupus, which mostly affects young women between ages 15 and 45. October is national lupus awareness month.
"Many women have learned to be on the lookout for signs of breast cancer, and that’s important, but lupus awareness is equally important," Senator Oppenheimer said. "By getting into the loop during lupus awareness month, we can spread the word about this potentially devastating disease and save lives."
According to the Mamaroneck lawmaker, lupus can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms- joint pain, rashes, fever and fatigue- mimic other less serious illnesses. And since symptoms tend to come and go, it can be years before an accurate diagnosis is made.
"What’s especially worrisome about this delay is that early recognition, diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious, potentially life-threatening consequences, such as heart disease and kidney failure," Senator Oppenheimer said.
Senator Oppenheimer also noted that lupus is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans than among Caucasians. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have lupus.
"Lupus is one of America’s least recognized major diseases, so many who receive the diagnosis might not know where to turn for information and support," Senator Oppenheimer added. "Thankfully, Westchester has some excellent resources to improve the quality of life for people with lupus and their families."
For more information, contact the Lupus Alliance of America’s Hudson Valley Affiliate toll-free at 1-888-575-8787. Their 11th Annual Walk-Along for Lupus will be held Oct. 22 in White Plains.
"While lupus is widespread, public awareness lags behind many other illnesses," Senator Oppenheimer concluded. "I encourage all New Yorkers to take the time to get into the loop. Learn the signs of lupus, see a doctor, and, if need be, get treatment as soon as possible."