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How Lupus Affects the Blood  

Lupus affects many components of blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, which lead to a wide variety of health issues.

About the Components of Blood

Red blood cells transport oxygen to various parts of the body. White blood cells are part of the immune system that fights infection. Neutrophils are types of white blood cells that are the first line of defense against infection. Platelets are small fragments that can clump together to form blood clots, which prevent excessive bleeding.

How does lupus affect white blood cells?

The body’s immune system fights against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that cause infection. Lupus is a condition in which the immune system attacks healthy body tissue. In some cases, lupus can affect the cells of the immune system, including the white blood cells, neutrophils, and more. This means lupus can decrease the number of these cells.

Lupus can Cause Blood Disorders

Lupus is associated with a number of blood disorders, such as:

  • Anemia – low red blood cell counts; as many as half of all people with lupus have anemia
  • Thrombosis – occurs when a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel to obstruct blood flow
  • Leukopenia – low white blood cell count; affects about 95 percent of those with lupus
  • Thrombocytopenia – low platelet count, which can lead to bruising
  • Neutropenia – an abnormally low number of neutrophils

Hematologists, who are specialists in blood disorders, can diagnose and treat these blood disorders.

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