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Can You Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis?

By    |   Wednesday, 11 May 2016 04:27 PM

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious disorder causing pain and joint stiffness, but most people may not know that you can die from the disease and its complications.

More than 2 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, an immune disorder that targets the joints and causes inflammation.

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A large study linked rheumatoid arthritis with premature death, and this increased risk was even more significant among older women. Dr. Ted Mikuls, the lead researcher on the study told WebMD, “Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with an increase in mortality in women who get it later in life.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is not the same as arthritis. Its effects are much more far-reaching, affecting more than just the joints, Dr. Karim Raza, consulting rheumatologist at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospitals, tells The Guardian. He says patients typically die 10 years earlier than they would have due to heart disease.

In addition to its link with premature death from heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis can also develop into other life-threatening conditions as it progresses.

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Everyday Health tells the story of a woman who battled RA for many years with typical treatment protocols until she eventually developed the same dangerous spinal condition that killed actor Christopher Reeve. The condition, called spinal cord syndrome, deteriorates the bones in the neck. It can result in small, sharp bone fragments that float around in the back and, literally like a knife, damage other organs such as the heart and lungs. The patient they described eventually died from spinal cord syndrome because the complicated operation to correct it was too risky given her failing health.

There is hope for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, however, when treatment is started early. The Guardian explains that most often, the early symptoms of RA such as inflammation, stiffness, and joint pain are dismissed as inevitable complications of getting older.

Most people don’t raise the issue with their physicians early enough. Raza says there is evidence that when treatment is initiated within three months of the onset of RA, it is likely to dramatically slow the progression, and in some cases, even reverse the disease.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious disorder causing pain and joint stiffness, but most people may not know that you can die from the disease and its complications.
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2016-27-11
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 04:27 PM
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