12:53 PM

The Rising Toll of Autoimmune Diseases in Older People

AARP Magazine reports on the rise of autoimmune diseases in adults over the age of 50, and includes insights from Mary K. Crow, MD, physician-in-chief emerita at HSS. 

Dr. Crow explained the risks associated with steroids, a common therapy for many autoimmune diseases. “Even when patients are treated with biologics, many are also on steroids, but these drugs have terrible toxicities, including an increased risk of diabetes and infection. The treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease.”

She emphasized that promising novel treatments are coming on the market at a fast pace. “For lupus alone, a disease I specialize in, there are many drugs in clinical trials, and more are getting approved.”

The holy grail for doctors is developing medications that can substitute for steroids — that can cool the immune response but don't have the same side effects, added Dr. Crow.

Read the full article at AARP.org. This article also appeared in the September issue of AARP The Magazine.