Compared with white lupus patients, black lupus patients had a 34 percent higher rate of stroke and Hispanic lupus patients had at a 25 percent increased stroke risk, according to new research published in the journal Seminars in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Medha Barbhaiya, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and colleagues studied more than 65,000 lupus patients within Medicaid (93 percent were female). Forty-two percent of the patients were black; 38 percent were white; 16 percent were Hispanic; 3 percent were Asian; and 1 percent was American Indian or Alaska Native.

The results underscore “the importance of early recognition and screening for stroke risk factors among Blacks and Hispanics,” Barbhaiya and colleagues wrote in the paper.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tissues and organs. Lupus affects more women than men, tends to be diagnosed in patients between the ages of 15 and 45, and is more common in African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans. Read more about the signs and symptoms of lupus here.

Last year, two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded studies, one in New York and one in California, found the same disparities in lupus incidence. In the same year, singer and actress Selena Gomez publicly discussed a kidney transplant she needed due to her lupus.

Stroke accounts for almost one-third of lupus deaths, notes MedPage Today, and black and Hispanic lupus patients “tend to have more severe disease and end-organ damage than whites.”

The study authors admit they don’t know whether the differences in stroke risk between black/hispanic and white patients is due to biological differences or disparities in medical care access, according to MedPage. “Further research confirming the current findings and investigating factors such as genetics, biomarkers, lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity, medications, and other thrombotic risk factors is needed,” according to the researchers.

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