The autoimmune disease lupus is at best a moving target for patients and physicians. The warning signs, such as joint pain, rash and fatigue, can be very vague, says rheumatologist Jose F. Roldan, M.D., clinical instructor of medicine at the Health Science Center.
Even a positive blood test for lupus is not conclusive proof that someone has the disease, because the same readings are seen in 10 percent to 20 percent of normal patients.
“Lupus is so complex that it should be diagnosed by an internist or rheumatologist,” says Dr. Roldan, who joined the Health Science Center’s division of clinical immunology and rheumatology a year ago. After receiving his medical degree in Colombia, Dr. Roldan completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in rheumatology at the Health Science Center.
Dr. Roldan is following 180 patients in a new lupus clinic at the Texas Diabetes Institute. “We are diagnosing, treating and managing lupus and vasculitis, two uncommon diseases that can be quite debilitating,” he says.
Lupus is rare, occurring in five of every 100,000 people. Treatments have improved, enhancing quality of life for the 380,000 Americans who live with the disease. For reasons yet to be discovered, the body’s immune system, which is supposed to protect against any infectious agent, goes into warp drive, attacking one or many organs, including the kidneys, skin, liver, nervous system and heart. “A patient’s care depends on how many organs are affected,” Dr. Roldan says. “For example, in our clinic we stay in close contact with the renal department because of the issues involving the kidneys. Dr. Robin Brey from the Health Science Center’s division of neurology assists us with the neurological component of the disease.”
The clinic’s goals are to manage the pain patients suffer and coordinate their care on a consistent basis. “The key is seeing them in a regular and timely fashion,” Dr. Roldan says.
For more information about the clinic, call (210) 567-4658.