Thursday, February 22, 2024

Can You Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis

Your Guide To Thyroid Medication

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

Optimizing your thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing symptoms.

Take your medication

Both diseases usually require some support from medication. Fortunately, common drugs for both conditions do not usually interact, so you should be able to treat both simultaneously. Make sure to follow your doctor’s orders when taking your medication.

Medication for Rheumatoid arthritis

There is no cure for RA, so the goal is to get your disease into remission, where you have no symptoms or at least control over them. Medical treatment of RA includes anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, DMARDs that can slow disease progression, and biological drugs.

Medication for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Suppose you have an underactive thyroid due to your Hashimoto’s. In that case, you need to take a thyroid hormone replacement medication like levothyroxine. People on this medication need to take it for the rest of their life, and there are some specific guidelines like taking it on an empty stomach.

A New Way Of Looking At The Mortality Numbers

RA itself is not generally considered a lethal disease, and the rate of mortality attributed to it as the main underlying cause of death is on the decline. Deaths in people with RA had previously been seen as complications of RA and its treatment, so Widdifield and her team approached looking at RA mortality in a new way. They examined premature mortality and age at the time of death and the potential number of years of life lost. That rate is double for people with RA, says Widdifield. This method puts more weight if you died at a younger age. Of people with rheumatoid arthritis, 36 percent do not live to the age of 75, compared with 32 percent of people without the disease.

Life Expectancy Of Someone With Osteoarthritis

Until now, none of the experts has obtained any evidence about osteoarthritis to reduce the overall life expectancy. A few of the research studies have revealed that people suffering from osteoarthritis have a relatively high mortality rate as compared to others without osteoarthritis. However, the mentioned studies have accomplished osteoarthritis with other factors or lifestyles, like cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure to contribute to a high rate of mortality.

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What Is The Average Ra Life Expectancy

Studies have found an association between RA and a shortened lifespan. This is different than saying that RA itself causes a premature death. The complications that develop as a result of an aggressive RA disease course are what put patients at a greater risk for a lower life expectancy.

An exact life expectancy is almost impossible to predict due to the varying nature of the disease. In general, patients can expect that the rheumatoid arthritis life expectancy could be shortened by roughly 10 years to as many as 15 years. This is dependent on a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Gender
  • Personal and family medical history
  • Lifestyle
  • Overall levels of health and wellbeing

Do not lose hope! Despite these study results, its also important to note that many RA patients live well into their 80s and 90s which is an average expected lifespan.

What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis


Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks cells in the thyroid gland. Over time, this can cause chronic inflammation and eventual thyroid failure. Therefore, people with Hashimoto’s often develop hypothyroidism because their thyroid gland cannot produce thyroid hormone, which helps control metabolism.

Often, Hashimoto’s goes undetected until a person develops an underactive thyroid. Therefore, people with this condition develop symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Weight gain

Suppose you or your doctor suspect you have Hashimoto’s. In that case, you should order a complete thyroid panel to check your thyroid hormone levels and TPO antibodies, which help indicate if there is an autoimmune process at play.

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How Long Can You Live With Lupus

There is no cure for lupus, so this is a question many newly diagnosed patients askor want to ask.

Thanks to advances over the past two decades, more than 90% of people with lupus survive 10 years or more, with many achieving a normal lifespan.

Lupus was once much more deadly. Only 50% of people diagnosed with lupus in 1955 were expected to live for more than four years.

Researchers say the survival rate for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus has improved for many reasons. These include:

  • Improvements in the classification of patients
  • Earlier diagnosis

When Lupus Is Fatal

Kidney failure used to be the most common cause of lupus mortality. Today, when lupus shortens someones lifespan, it is most often attributed to long-term complications of the disease, especially infection, kidney failure, and cardiovascular disease .

Evidence suggests that active disease causes about a third of lupus deaths, while complications of the disease or its treatment cause about two-thirds of lupus deaths.

Lupus complications are increasingly related to aggressive treatments. These treatments can extend a patient’s life considerably, but their side effects may eventually take a health toll.

The severity of your lupus factors into your life expectancy. It’s been shown that people with more severe lupus tend to have shorter lifespans. This is probably because patients with severe disease have more disease complications and get more aggressive treatment.

A diagnosis of severe lupus does not necessarily mean an early death. A study published in 2009 found the life expectancy of women with lupus nephritis has improved so much that it now approaches that of the general population.

The bottom line: Don’t lose hope. You can live a full lifespan with a lupus diagnosis.

Lupus Doctor Discussion Guide

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Cardiovascular And Respiratory Deaths In People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

While the causes of death were very similar among the two groups the most frequent being circulatory system diseases, cancer, and respiratory infections people with rheumatoid arthritis were more likely to succumb to those serious health problems at a younger age.

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Our findings offer new insights into the importance of cardiovascular and respiratory contributions including pneumonia to shortening patient lives, says Widdifield. Her analysis shows that a third of RA deaths can be chalked up to heart disease. Both patients and physicians should be thinking about this connection earlier in the patients life. The heightened risk associated with respiratory diseases and respiratory infections should also be a cause for discussion, she says.

Causes And Risk Factors

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Is It Fatal?

RA is caused when the immune system attacks healthy joint tissues. Researchers dont know what causes the immune system to attack the synovium, the lining of the joints. But this process causes inflammation that can destroy bone and cartilage, stretching and weakening tendons and ligaments.

This leads to pain and loss of joint shape and alignment.

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Why Heart Disease Is More Deadly For Those With Ra

Heart disease should be considered a serious cause for concern among people with RA, even those whove yet to reach middle age. The study authors found that people with RA under the age of 45 had almost a threefold increased risk of cardiovascular disease death compared with the general population, in large part because of the high-grade, systemic inflammation that goes along with RA. It doesnt only affect the joints, its throughout the body, and it attacks multiple organs, says Widdifield.

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RA treatments themselves may also play a role in leading to premature death, particularly because they can leave people more susceptible to infections. A lot of disease-modifying treatments have altering effects on the immune system, so people with RA should take mild infections seriously, says Widdifield. Talk to your doctor about the flu and shingles vaccines and about other preventive strategies. Even a mild infection can turn more deadly in , she says.

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How Your Ra Treatment Plan Prevents Disease Progression

Perhaps the biggest factor that affects how RA progresses is if youre in treatment with a specialist who can put you on medications to slow the disease. Being on a DMARD or biologic therapy for RA is the best way to prevent progression, Dr. Lally says.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are usually the first line in medication. Methotrexate is the anchor drug for rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Bhatt says. Some patients are scared because methotrexate is also used for cancer chemotherapy so they dont want to take a chemo pill, but those we use for RA are a very small dose with lesser chance of side effects. Your doctor will reassess in a month or so and see if its necessary to add in other drugs.

If after three to six months they have still not responded then we progress to medications called biologics, Dr. Bhatt says. These genetically engineered drugs target the inflammation process specifically, and are usually self-injected or infused via IV in your doctors office or a medical center. There are sub-classes and different types, Dr. Bhatt says. Your doctor will try various medications to see which you respond best to.

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How Diet Affects Ra

Although there is no demonstrable link between diet and RA, studies have shown that the type of inflammation experienced in RA could be modulated by certain foods. Increased inflammation has been attributed to processed foods or foods cooked at higher temperatures.

It is recommended to increase consumption of foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory, such as fruits, veggies, and cold water fish . As a result, inflammatory symptoms may improve and possibly lead to fewer flare-ups.

Ra Life Expectancy: Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Life Span

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis : Can you die from rheumatoid ...

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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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.

Were Medications The Culprit

Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis work by suppressing, or calming down, the immune system, leaving patients at an increased risk of an infection such as pneumonia, which reportedly contributed to Freys death. Infections are a complication with the medications that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Manno says.

However, Marcy O’Koon, director of consumer health for the Arthritis Foundation, notes the medications do not cause ulcerative colitis, as Freys manager reported.

But pneumonia can be a killer even in people who are not immunocompromised, says Dr. Ellen Goldmuntz, a specialist in rheumatologic autoimmune diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be associated with other serious medical conditions, especially cardiovascular disease, Manno says, explaining that the connection is probably something about the chronic inflammatory state.

Glenn Frey is not the first celebrity whose death has concerned some of her patients, Manno says. Alarms went off in February 2014 when Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis died of complications from vasculitis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels.

It does create fear, she says. I cant say if are going to have something similar.

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Can A Person Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Malnutrition In Ra Patients

Depression Deadly in Men With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Patients with RA are often at a higher risk of malnutrition for multiple reasons. First of all, weight loss is a common symptom in RA patients. Its thought to be due to the autoimmune condition itself producing inflammatory responses which cause an increase in metabolic rate. This means that the body burns through more calories than normal, which can lead to weight loss. This is not considered healthy weight loss. This type of weight loss can potentially leave the patient undernourished or malnourished.

Secondly, many patients taking the common disease-modifying antirheumatic drug called methotrexate, have been known to have a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. Many RA medications produce side effects such as stomach ulcers and other digestive concerns which can make it difficult to eat. These conditions combined with weight loss further compound the problems of malnourishment in patients. Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies in RA include a lack of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium

A proper diet for RA that is rich in these vitamins and minerals is important for keeping patients healthy.

Finally, many RA patients are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones caused by a calcium or vitamin D deficiency. RA patients should be aware of this potential risk and ensure their diet accounts for this potential deficiency.

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Why Do Rheumatoid Arthritis And Hashimoto’s Often Coexist

The big question we all want to know is why Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis often show up together. Exactly how these two conditions work together is not completely clear. Still, we know that rheumatoid arthritis is a risk factor for Hashimoto’s. Likewise, Hashimoto’s increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The leading theory as to why these two diseases occur in the same person comes down to genetics. Researchers suspect that there is a genetic predisposition for the two diseases on the HLA genetic sequence. HLA stands for the Human Leukocyte Antigen System, which plays an essential role in regulating the immune system. Many autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, also show defects in this genetic sequence.

Aside from your genes, evidence suggests that environmental factors and stress also increase your risk for autoimmune diseases. For example, infections, exposure to toxins, and dietary habits may play a role in autoimmune diseases. In response to these stressors, the immune system develops “self-antigens” that can lead to tissue destruction.

Vision Loss Of Red/green Color Distinction

A rare complication of the commonly used rheumatoid arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine is an injury to the retina . The earliest sign of retinal changes from hydroxychloroquine is a decreased ability to distinguish between red and green colors. This occurs because the retina’s vision area that is first affected by the drug normally detects these colors. People who are taking hydroxychloroquine who lose red/green color distinction should stop the drug and contact their doctor.

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Tips For Coping With Ra

In addition to following your doctors suggested treatment plan, there are other things you can do to manage your condition. You can:

Eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein can increase your energy and boost your mood. Junk foods may aggravate inflammation and cause weight gain. More weight puts additional stress on your joints.

Listen to your body. If you do something physical and then have severe pain lasting an hour or more, it means youve probably overdone it. When you start feeling increased pain, stop the activity and rest.

Use assistive devices. There are a variety of devices specially designed to meet the needs of people with arthritis. These include kitchen utensils, household tools, and even writing implements with easy-grip features. Using these tools can improve your daily life.

Ask for help. Enlist the aid of family and friends for the most difficult tasks, such as heavy lifting, vacuuming, and scrubbing floors.

Move your body. Make sure you move a little each day. It will help with muscle strength and flexibility. Ask your doctor how much exercise and what kind is best for you. If possible, work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to formulate an exercise plan. Also, avoid staying in one position for too long. Get up from a seated position at least once every 30 minutes to stretch and move around. If youre doing work involving a gripping action, try to release your grip every 10 to 15 minutes.

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