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Ask the Rheumatologist: Latest Answer

Q:

George from Chicago asks: My mother has rheumatoid arthritis.  She is afraid to take medications due to all their risks and the need for bloodwork.   I searched RA without medication showing that it can cause a shorter life span, including heart failure, and lung damage.. is this true?

A:

Studies show that poorly controlled rheumatoid arthritis may shorten one’s life span by about 10 years, with cardiovascular disease risk being one of the biggest risks.  Poorly controlled RA can affect many other organs outside of the joints, as it truly is a systemic disease.  Our current treatment options are generally very good at treating rheumatoid arthritis, limiting the risk of organ involvement and we believe improving life span.  Unfortunately, no medication is without its risks and treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis are no different.  For most people, the benefit of taking the medication outweighs the risks.  Every person with rheumatoid arthritis deserves to have a conversation with their rheumatologist outlining all the risks of a given medication AND their benefit, as well the benefits and risks of not taking medication, so a decision can be made based on all the information available and that is right for you.

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