Sunday, March 3, 2024

Can Someone Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jack Cush Reviews The Complications Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Can people die from rheumatoid arthritis? || Dr. Kaushik Basu || Rheumatologist

I was truly stunned Monday when it was announced that Glenn Frey, from the Eagles, had died as a result of complications from his rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.

It was unexpected, shocking, and so wrong that someone so young would die, and from RA. It hit me hard — a bit worse than Lennon.

The media and most of the lay audience seemed puzzled that “rheumatoid arthritis” or its complications could be the cause of death … especially in a middle-aged rock icon. The patients, their families, and the populace are not aware that RA can kill. It can hinder what should be a great life. But it is never given the credit it deserves as the potentially devastating disease it can be.

Several publications have noted RA is seldom listed as the cause of death on review of death certificates. A few studies have shown that RA is the underlying cause of death in 18% to 27% of death certificates. A recent study from Brazil showed that the average age at death for RA was 67 years — the same age as Glenn Frey. The other commonly listed causes of death include pneumonia, sepsis, renal failure, interstitial lung disease, and heart failure.

While I’ve always admired his music and talents, I don’t know Mr. Frey or any details of his medical conditions. This event begs the question: what can be learned from his unexpected death? Why do RA patients die unexpectedly?

We still have a long way to go in treating this devastating and deadly disease.


Those With Rheumatoid Arthritis More Likely To Die Early

A new study continues to show that patients with RA face increased mortality rates, but fewer of these deaths are from heart disease.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can face a higher risk of premature death as well as serious complications if the inflammation resulting from RA isnt well-controlled.

In addition to increased mortality rates, RA can cause poorer heart health when its not managed correctly.

One new study presents yet more dismal news on this front. Fortunately, another offers some hope.

According to a study of nurses health by Brigham and Womens Hospital , patients with RA have a significantly elevated risk of death, typically from disease complications related to cardiovascular problems.

The results were based on 964 female nurses followed from 1976 to today and comparing them to the rest of the nurses in the study who didnt have RA. In all, data from more than 100,000 nurses was included in the study.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis

Doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis based on a patients symptoms, joint mobility and function, X-rays, and blood test results. A , a doctor who specializes in arthritis, examines the joint for signs of inflammation and damage.

Blood tests are used to detect specific types of antibodies found in some people with RA. Positive blood test results are not enough to confirm an RA diagnosis, but they can help doctors narrow down possible causes of joint pain and other symptoms. One of the antibodies doctors look for are anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies .

Anti-CCP antibodies tend to be present early on in the disease. In fact, some studies show the presence of anti-CCP antibodies in patients many years before they develop symptoms of RA, indicating these antibodies are linked to a greater likelihood of developing the condition.

Rheumatoid factor is another antibody linked to RA, but it is also present in many other autoimmune conditions. Rheumatoid factor is not as specific for RA as anti-CCP antibodies are.

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What Is The Outlook For Patients Living With Ra

RA research has come a long way over the past several decades. Historically, little was known about RA and the wide-ranging symptoms and complications which resulted from the diseases inflammatory processes.

Today, doctors understand that there are several conditions that may present themselves in RA patients. Patients who work closely with their rheumatologist can have these potential complications addressed early on, and pursue appropriate treatments to prevent symptoms from advancing.

Despite working proactively with medical specialists, there are cases where patients suffer from severe symptoms which do not respond to current treatments. Unfortunately these cases can lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Are There Any Specific Vaccine Side Effects To Be Aware Of With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Causes of Death in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some COVID-19 vaccine side effects could mirror those of a disease flare. Its important to carefully track your symptoms and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Typically, vaccine side effects only last a few days .

The CDC lists the following common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Pain on the arm where you got the shot
  • Redness on the arm where you got the shot
  • Swelling on the arm where you got the shot
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Some vaccine side effects that can overlap with rheumatoid arthritis disease activity may include muscle aches, joint pain, temporary fever, and fatigue, says clinical rheumatologist Magdalena Cadet, MD, Associate Attending Physician at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

Nausea may be present in some individuals after the vaccine, but rheumatoid arthritis patients may also experience that symptom with medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, like methotrexate or sulfasalazine, she adds.

Another common symptom of the vaccine is swollen lymph nodes under the arms on the side of the body where you received the vaccine, per the Cleveland Clinic. The swollen lymph nodes typically appear a few days after the vaccine and tend to subside within a few days to a few weeks. Although uncommon, swollen lymph nodes can also appear with rheumatoid arthritis.

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What Determines Life Expectancy

RA is an autoimmune disease that makes patients more susceptible to developing other conditions. This can compromise the health of patients long-term. That being said, there are factors that can improve a patients life expectancy through mitigating the complications experienced during the disease course.

Dont Say: This Would Go Away If Youd Just Lose Weight

People seem to think that because I am a large person, I brought RA on myself, says Seeber. While this might be true, its incredibly dismissive. Weight loss is certainly a good idea and would help solve a lot of my health issues. The thing is, doing so while one is in a great deal of pain on a daily basis is very difficult if not impossible. Ive lost weight many times usually in short bursts when my pain is better but always gain it back when I am in pain and cant move as much. So its kind of a catch-22. If I could lose weight, my RA would improve. If I could just get rid of some of this RA pain, I could exercise more and lose weight. When people point out weight loss as an easy solution to RA, they dont have the whole picture.

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Dont Say: Ive Read That Turmeric Can Cure Your Rheumatoid Arthritis

Bottom line: There is currently no cure for RA. Otherwise wed all be mainlining the golden Asian spice like fiends. Many people with RA swear that turmeric has anti-inflammatory healing properties and thats perfectly fine it works for them. The problem arises when complete strangers start pushing it more aggressively than a drug dealer.

Much of the advice I get is from people pushing this or that current fad, with plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the claims, but very little, if any, scientific evidence, explains Kandice Seeber, 45, who was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia about five years ago. Things like tart cherry juice, CBD oil, deep blue rub, joint supplements. I get frustrated when people offer unsolicited medical advice when they are not qualified to do that, they dont know my medical history or me, and they only have their own experiences to talk about.

Is It Safe To Get The Covid

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Katy’s Journey

The short answer: Yes. Having rheumatoid arthritis is not a contraindication the vaccine. In fact, getting the vaccine when you have rheumatoid arthritis may be especially important, given the disease may put you at higher risk for COVID-19 or severe outcomes.

Many patients with autoimmune conditions who take medications that affect immune system function are concerned that certain vaccines could give them the virus. This could theoretically occur with vaccines like the MMR vaccine for measles and mumps, which is a live vaccine. That means it is a weakened form of the virus intended to cause a harmless infection that your immune system rapidly eliminates.

However, none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are live vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine cannot infect you with coronavirus. It is safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis, including those who take immunosuppressant medication.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the only contraindications to receiving the COVID-19 are:

  • Severe allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose or known allergy to a component of the vaccine. See the ingredients in each vaccine here.

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Can People Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis Mosaic Weighted Blanket

We are in need of solutions that soothe joints or painful muscles. Can People Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis. Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis may be hard sometimes you need help stretching with deep tissue tools and finding relief while sleeping with the Mosaic weighted blanket.

Im seeing a ton of rave reviews regarding these Mosaic blankets. I had to dig deeper and I found out that Mosaics are designed to be 8-12% of your body weight. Were referring to the sort of hacks that provide calm to people that experience PTSD, anxiety, and also arthritis. Essentially, the idea is to give you the feeling of being hugged or held. So all of the fuzzy and warm feelings you get from this type of sensory input is replicated through an weighted blanket. Most of the times you experience pain or numbness in the joints or muscle its because youre not able to relax or stretch that muscle or joint.

This blanket, gives the experience of being hugged tight, which is as soothing no matter your age.

Anyone who sought relief and has experienced this type of discomfort knows how frustrating it can be.

So at about $150 for the blanket that can last years and help relieve pain and allow me to sleep it is a no brainer.

But beware, not all are created equally and only a few are designed for breathability. Like any great idea, tons of brands pop up to offer inferior products for a great idea.

Ra Life Expectancy: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Life Span

The predicted life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis is problematic to accurately calculate due to the vast amount of unpredictable variables involved. As a chronic disease, RA tends to be progressive. In other words, it is a long-term disease in which symptoms tend to accumulate over time. This accumulation results in an overall worsening of the patients symptoms. Presently, doctors do not know what causes nor triggers the disease. That being said, they suspect it is likely initiated by a combination of factors including genetics and environmental influences.

Because there isnt one specific cause of the disease, there is also no known cure for RA. Todays medical technology and research, however, provide a variety of treatment options, which can prolong the lives of patients, slow the progression of disease, and provide some symptom relief.

These are just some of the factors which make it difficult to predict an exact life expectancy for RA patients. What research has found is that it isnt the disease itself which reduces the life expectancy of patients. Its the varying complications that develop as a result of the disease which cause life expectancy to shorten. For example, RA can cause respiratory and cardiovascular conditions which can compound over time and lead to a shortened lifespan and possibly eventual fatality.

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Dont Say: You Always Flake Out On Plans

One of the worst things about RA is its unpredictability. You never know if its going to be a good day or a bad day, says Eric Kops, 48, whos one of the super rare/unlucky people who has both rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. You can try to eat well and take care of yourself but there are no guarantees. People without RA dont understand that when you have a flare, you need to stay in, rest, and recover. Even going to a movie can be too much when you are just sitting there and some parts of your body are just throbbing in constant pain.

Foods To Avoid With Ra

Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Elderly: Sufferers likely to ...

Red meat and dairy

Theyâre our main sources of saturated fats, which can cause inflammation in fat tissue. Other sources include full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes, and grain-based desserts.

Corn oil

The culprit here is omega-6 fatty acids. You want to cut down on them while youâre going for more omega-3s. They can lead to weight gain and joint inflammation if you overdo it. Sunflower, safflower, soy, and vegetable oils are also sources.

Fried food, fast food, and processed foods

Theyâre the major source of trans fats, which are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to extend shelf life. They can trigger inflammation throughout your body. Plus, they raise bad cholesterol and lower the good type.


Not only is too much salt bad for your blood pressure, but if you have RA and take steroids, your body may hold on to it more easily. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams a day.

It tells your body to release chemicals called cytokines that kick-start the inflammation process. Check food labels for words that end in âose,â like fructose or sucrose.


It doesnât mix well with your RA meds. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers on their own. Those odds go up when you add alcohol.

If you drink while youâre taking acetaminophen, leflunomide , or methotrexate, it could damage your liver.

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How Is Ra Treated

RA can be effectively treated and managed with medication and self-management strategies. Treatment for RA usually includes the use of medications that slow disease and prevent joint deformity, called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs biological response modifiers are medications that are an effective second-line treatment. In addition to medications, people can manage their RA with self-management strategies proven to reduce pain and disability, allowing them to pursue the activities important to them. People with RA can relieve pain and improve joint function by learning to use five simple and effective arthritis management strategies.

Can People Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis

Healthline/Medical News TodayJun 22, 2019

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can increase a person’s risk of heart and lung disease. In advanced stages, people can die from these complications.

RA can make a person more likely to develop health complications affecting the heart and lungs. The risk of complications depends on a range of factors, including age, disease progression, and a person’s lifestyle. There is currently no cure, but effective treatment can slow down or stop the progression of the condition and prevent complications. Treatments work best when a person starts taking them early in the disease progression. In this article, we look at how RA may affect a person’s lifespan.


RA is a chronic medical condition that involves increased levels of inflammation in tissues throughout the body. A person cannot die from RA. However, the widespread inflammation that characterizes the condition can lead to life-threatening complications.

According to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network, a person with RA may have a lifespan that is approximately 10, or at most 15, years shorter than average. Yet in many cases, people with RA have the same life expectancy as people without it, especially when the symptoms are well controlled.

What factors affect lifespan?

  • Infections, such as pneumonia
  • Musculoskeletal conditions

Complications of RA

Heart disease

Respiratory disease


Other complications

  • Inflammation in the eye

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Who Should Diagnose And Treat Ra

A doctor or a team of doctors who specialize in care of RA patients should diagnose and treat RA. This is especially important because the signs and symptoms of RA are not specific and can look like signs and symptoms of other inflammatory joint diseases. Doctors who specialize in arthritis are called rheumatologists, and they can make the correct diagnosis. To find a provider near you, visit the database of rheumatologistsexternal icon on the American College of Rheumatology website.

How To Lower Your Risk For Complications

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Signs & Symptoms | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Despite the risk, several strategies can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of serious complications:

You may also want to speak to your doctor about getting the vaccination for pneumonia. Its often recommended for people with certain health conditions, including RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis can progress, so talk to your doctor about new or unusual symptoms. These include:

  • shortness of breath

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Clinical Guidelines For Managing Ra

Although there is no cure for RA, treatments are available to help control the disease. Clinical guidelines for RA treatment, published in 2021 by the American College of Rheumatology, doubled down on previous guidance emphasizing the use of methotrexate as the main disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug treatment before adding another medication.

On average, people with RA live about 10 years less than people without the disease.

Laura Porter / Verywell

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