Dr. Ruderman discusses if rheumatoid arthritis is a fatal condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t fatal in the usual sense that we think of a disease being fatal. You do not die from arthritis. However, it has become very clear that people with rheumatoid arthritis, because of the inflammation in their systems, there is a systemic inflammation in the entire body, people with rheumatoid arthritis have at least twice the risk of heart disease, twice the risk of cardiovascular disease than somebody without rheumatoid arthritis. And so having rheumatoid arthritis doubles your risk of heart attack, doubles your risk of a stroke, increases your risk of having a heart failure, and all of those things can be fatal.
And so rheumatoid arthritis, if not well treated, actually can lead to other complications that can in fact be fatal. And so, historically, we have always assumed that people with rheumatoid arthritis die earlier. Lately, with better therapies and aggressive treatment that starts early before a lot of damage is done we actually do not know that that necessarily has to be the case and we can actually reduce the mortality of the disease by controlling the disease better.
About Dr. Ruderman, M.D.:
Dr. Eric M. Ruderman, M.D., is associate professor in the division of rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a board member of the Arthritis Foundation of Greater Chicago.
Dr. Ruderman graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, New York. He completed his residence at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and his fellowship training in rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.