Lupus Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease that can affect any organ or tissue in the body. Lupus develops when the immune system, which normally fights infection and protects the body, attacks healthy tissue like the joints, heart, kidneys, skin, and lungs.

Symptoms of lupus are different for each person and range from mild to severe. People with lupus often go through periods of remission, when their symptoms subside or disappear, and periods of flare-ups, when new symptoms develop or existing symptoms become worse.

While anyone can develop lupus, women between the ages of 15 and 44 are 13 times more likely than men to develop the disease.

There are an estimated 1.5 million people living with lupus in the United States and at least 5 million worldwide.

Due to improved diagnostics and new treatments, most people with lupus can expect to reach a near normal life expectancy. This article will highlight important lupus facts and statistics you should know.

Person with lupus consults with healthcare provider

Cavan Images / Getty Images

Lupus Overview

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can produce a wide range of symptoms depending on the organ or system affected.

There are four types of lupus:

  • Neonatal lupus (NLE) occurs in newborns who have a birthing parent who has autoantibodies. Though complications of the heart, liver, and skin can occur with neonatal lupus, most children born with the disease will have their symptoms spontaneously resolve within four to six months. 
  • Discoid lupus (DLE) affects the skin, causing rashes and chronic scarring. It is more common in Black American women.
  • Drug-induced lupus can develop after the use of a medication that causes an autoimmune response. Symptoms typically resolve after the medication is discontinued.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), simply called lupus, is the most common form of lupus and can affect any organ or tissue in the body. For every 100,000 people, lupus affects 20 to 150 people. 

Lupus ICD 10 Code 

The ICD 10 code of lupus (SLE) is M32. ICD 10 codes are used to classify a disease and will appear on paperwork, hospital charts, and insurance billing.

For lupus there may also be other more clarifying codes that appear alongside your initial diagnosis. These provide a greater level of detail to help healthcare providers treat you properly and ensure you are billed correctly for any medical treatment.

How Common Is Lupus

Approximately 16,000 people are diagnosed with lupus each year in the United States. The prevalence of lupus has nearly doubled since 1976. The rising rates of lupus may be due to the fact that the United States is becoming more diverse, as it is more prevalent in populations other than non-Hispanic Whites.

Lupus by Ethnicity

Lupus is twice as prevalent in people of other races and ethnicities compared to non-Hispanic White people. One population study noted that 1 in 537 Black females will develop lupus.

Black women are more likely to develop the disease at an earlier age and have less favorable outcomes when compared to White women. 

Lupus by Age and Gender

Ninety percent of people diagnosed with lupus are female. Several theories exist for why this is; one is that hormones are at play.

One theory relates to having two X chromosomes (which is prevalent in people identified as female at birth). The X chromosomes carry genes related to immunity and regulation of the immune response. People with two X chromosomes have a higher chance of being affected by some types of changes (mutations) to the genes on this chromosome.

Also, each cell randomly deactivates one X chromosome when you have two. Only one X chromosome is actively providing instructions to produce proteins in any one cell, but this is random for each cell. If one X chromosome has a mutation that produces proteins different from the other, this might result in the immune system mistaking the proteins as foreign.

The average age for lupus onset is between 15 and 55.

Causes of Lupus and Risk Factors

The prevalence of lupus is higher among females, racial and ethnic minorities, and those who have a family history of autoimmune diseases.

The exact cause of lupus is unknown. Several theories exist and are being researched as to what triggers the immune system to attack the various tissues and organs of the body in lupus. These include:

  • Genetics: Some genes that affect the immune system may be responsible for the disease.
  • The environment: Certain medications, viruses, and sunlight may all have the potential to trigger lupus.
  • Immune and inflammatory processes: Changes to the way cells are normally processed may be responsible for creating an autoimmune response which could lead to lupus.

What Are the Mortality Rates for Lupus?

There has been marked improvement in the survival rates of people with lupus. In the 1940s, over 40% of the people diagnosed with lupus died within five years. Today, the five-year and 10-year survival rates are over 90%.

Survival rates refer to the percentage of people with lupus who survive past certain lengths of time after diagnosis, in this case five and 10 years.

While mortality decreased by 60% from 1970 to 1990, the mortality rate for people with lupus still remains double that of the general population.

Screening and Early Detection

Lupus is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms can be mistaken for symptoms of other diseases. There is no single test to diagnose lupus.

Early diagnosis of lupus can lead to earlier treatment which can prevent severe symptoms and permanent damage to different organs and systems of the body.

To diagnose lupus, a healthcare provider will:

  • Take a medical history, asking about symptoms and other problems
  • Complete a physical exam to look for signs of the disease
  • Conduct blood and urine tests to look for markers that indicate lupus
  • Perform a skin or kidney biopsy if necessary (removing a sample to analyze in the laboratory)


Lupus is a complex autoimmune disease that more commonly affects females, Black women, and other people of color. The exact cause of lupus is unknown.

While there is no cure, treatments exist to slow or prevent permanent damage to the body. Survival rates have improved over the last few decades with treatment options and improved diagnosis.  

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus).

  2. Fava A, Petri M. Systemic lupus erythematosus: diagnosis and clinical managementJ Autoimmun. 2019;96:1-13. doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2018.11.001

  3. Lupus Foundation of America. Lupus facts and statistics.

  4. Maidhof W, Hilas O. Lupus: an overview of the disease and management optionsP T. 2012;37(4):240-249.

  5. ICD10 Data. 2022 icd-10-cm diagnosis code m32: systemic lupus erythematosus (sle).

  6. Duarte-García A, Hocaoglu M, Valenzuela-Almada M, et al. Rising incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus: a population-based study over four decadesAnn Rheum Dis. 2022;annrheumdis-2022-222276. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2022-222276

  7. Somers EC, Marder W, Cagnoli P, et al. Population-based incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus: the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance programArthritis Rheumatol. 2014;66(2):369-378. doi:10.1002/art.38238

  8. Angum F, Khan T, Kaler J, Siddiqui L, Hussain A. The prevalence of autoimmune disorders in women: a narrative reviewCureus. 2020;12(5):e8094. doi:10.7759/cureus.8094

  9. Parks CG, de Souza Espindola Santos A, Barbhaiya M, Costenbader KH. Understanding the role of environmental factors in the development of systemic lupus erythematosusBest Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2017;31(3):306-320. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2017.09.005

  10. Singh RR, Yen EY. SLE mortality remains disproportionately high, despite improvements over the last decadeLupus. 2018;27(10):1577-1581. doi:10.1177/0961203318786436

  11. Jorge AM, Lu N, Zhang Y, Rai SK, Choi HK. Unchanging premature mortality trends in systemic lupus erythematosus: a general population-based study (1999-2014)Rheumatology (Oxford). 2018;57(2):337-344. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kex412

  12. Arnaud L, Tektonidou MG. Long-term outcomes in systemic lupus erythematosus: trends over time and major contributorsRheumatology (Oxford). 2020;59(Suppl5):v29-v38. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keaa382

  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diagnosing and treating lupus.