You may know that arthritis causes stiff, painful joints, but did you know that arthritis can impair other parts of the body, possibly leading to death?
Can arthritis kill you?
Well, assuming that you mean rheumatoidarthritis, my short answer is: probably. But it really, really depends.
Let me walk you through this.
First off, arthritis is a term used to refer to a number of conditions, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being some of the most common diseases that fall within this category.
These conditions affect millions of people and can cause disabling complications.
Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, is known to not only affect joints, but eventually, it can start to have an impact on organs and other parts of the body.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis And Who Is Affected?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that develops when the immune system starts to (mistakenly) recognize tissues in your joints as a threat to the body, and produces antibodies that attack this healthy tissue.
In the case of RA, the result is usually joints that become stiff, swollen and painful. Deformities may also develop with the joints that are affected by the disease as the joints erode. In time, additional complications may start to develop.
The disease is classified as an autoimmune condition, and there is currently no cure.
Studies have reported that the progression of rheumatoid arthritis leads to damage dealt with the synovial joint linings, and causes disability in the long run. The disease has also been linked to socioeconomic burdens, as well as premature death.
Up to 1.36 million adults in the US may be affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
While not as common as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis still affects a large number of individuals. In one study, collected data suggested that the prevalence of the condition among the American adult population ranges from 0.41% to 0.54%. The study also found that more women in the United States are affected by the disease compared to men.
Following the collection and analyzing of data, the researchers behind the study suggested that up to 1.36 million adults in the United States may be affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Lead To Death?
As I have mentioned previously, it is possible to die from the effects that rheumatoid arthritis has on the human body.
What should be noted here, however, is the fact that the disease does not directly lead to death.
As the disease progresses in the human body, a number of complications can develop. While some of the complications that have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis would not yield serious problems, others can cause premature death if untreated.
Some of the most serious complications of rheumatoid arthritis that patients need to be wary of include:
○ A higher risk of infection due to a weakened immune system
○ Problems with the lungs due to the presence of chronic inflammation
○ Heart disease and risk factors, including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease, it often works slowly. Research has found that rheumatoid arthritis eventually starts to cause organs to become affected by the autoimmune reaction.
This is what could ultimately lead to complications that can become life-threatening.
Living A Longer Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Even though rheumatoid arthritis can possibly reduce the lifespan of an affected person, there are certain things that can be done in order to reduce the risk of developing serious complications.
It should be noted, however, that each person’s body responds differently to the disease, and it tends to affect patients in unique ways. Thus, while it may take years for one person to start to feel the effects of the disease, others could end up with serious complications in a short period of time.
By implementing the strategies we will share below, the risk of developing common complications, as well as serious problems, as a result of rheumatoid arthritis could possibly be reduced:
○ Weight management. People who are obese are at a higher risk of complications since the excess weight in their body puts additional pressure on joints. This causes an increase in inflammation and pain symptoms. Losing weight for an overweight or obese person is definitely one of the strategies to be considered.
○ Giving up smoking. Smoking is known to cause inflammation in the body, especially the lungs. Since rheumatoid arthritis has also been associated with inflammation within the lungs, smoking can cause further problems.
○ Staying physically active. Even though rheumatoid arthritis can limit physical abilities, a reasonable amount of exercise (as advised by the patient's doctor) still plays an important role. This can help to improve the mobility of joints, and could possibly even reduce inflammation that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
○ Diet. Another important element to look at; many foods are known to promote inflammation, which could aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Other foods have anti-inflammatory properties and could be a beneficial addition to the RA patient's diet.
To Sum It All Up...
Rheumatoid arthritis, a type of autoimmune condition, initially affects the joints, but can later lead to complications with organs. Untreated, the condition can wreak havoc on the body.
In some cases, even when treated, complications can happen.
Understanding what to expect and implementing preventative strategies could help to reduce the risk of experiencing some of the more life-threatening problems associated with the disease.
P.S. If you or someone you care about is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis...
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