Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not only about pain, stiffness, or swelling in the joint. Although primarily it attacks joint, in fact it is a systemic condition, too. And while the joint problem in RA can be a serious condition and even could cause disability if left untreated, the disease could pose the risk of other serious complications that have nothing to do with the joint such as the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the leading trigger to kill sufferers.
In 1997, this chronic inflammatory joint disease took about 22 % of death in sufferers with rheumatic conditions and other types of arthritis – according to one study.
RA can change many aspects in your life. The impaired joint can affect your daily routines.
Feeling of worry about the prognosis of the disease can be another thing you need to deal with. In other words, you are also at high risk of some psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress – what else?
Poor in self-care
Self-care is the basic thing in your daily routines. It is the core of how to responsible for your own health and how to keep fit. It is also essential to maintain your mental health, too.
Depending on the severity of the problem, the affected joint by RA could be very limited in motion. And this can impair your ability for your self-care.
Each flare of RA in the same joint poses the risk of joint damage which then eventually could lead to disability. That’s why it is important to control the disease as well. The more flares you have, the greater risk of causing damage on the joint.
Financial and relationship problems
The RA symptoms can be very bothersome during flare-up. And this could affect your sexual health since you are more likely to have decreased sex drive.
The good news, RA doesn’t cause infertility. Many sufferers are successful to make a conception and have a baby – see more in here!
Furthermore, financial problem is another thing that should not be ignored. Having chronic disease such as RA will increase functional disability, the risk of work disability, and eventually could lead to dramatic reduction in your financial incomes.
On the other hand, sufferers with RA will incur elevated costs of medical cares, hospitalization, and more physician visits. All these things can cause relationship problems.
And while RA can put you at high risk of relationship problems, it’s important to have good socialization and relationship with others to cope with the disease. For example, being socialize can be a good distraction for the pain and also helpful to cope with stress and other psychological problems.
Complications of RA
Since RA is a systemic inflammatory disorder, the inflammation not only affects the joint. There is a chance for it to affect other parts of the body, causing the following complications:
- Heart problems.
- Eye problems.
- Lung problems.
- Osteoporosis (bone fractures).
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Hair loss.
- See more these complications in here!
These effects describe the general information about the consequences of poorly-controlled RA. As long as your RA is well controlled, there are still lots of things you can do in your life!
In general, RA can be controlled with appropriate treatment. If it is controlled as well, sufferers are more likely to experience a few symptoms and should be able to lead full lives.
Some studies report that having rheumatic conditions such as RA can put you at high risk of premature death (die at younger ages). Although the new treatments can help provide better prognosis, but unfortunately the gap of life expectancy still remains!
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD)
It has been long known that people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus and RA tend to die at younger ages. Nevertheless, this issue is not fully understood yet.
And as noted before, cardiovascular diseases are the top leading causes. They are the cause of about 40 percent of all deaths in people with RA.
CVD itself in RA is a common complication. Even according to one study, RA may increase the risk of stroke or heart attack by about two-fold. This risk could get worse for sufferers with RA for more than one decade.
While out of control of inflammation in RA plays a key role in causing CVD, some medications have an effect, too. For example, some NSAIDs can pose the risk of high blood pressure! Even some could cause damage to the kidneys.
The complexity of factors that connect RA and CVD are not easy to be understood. For in-depth information about how RA affects your heart and cardiovascular system, see this section!
The risk of serious infections
RA could pose the risk of infections, too. The overwhelming inflammation that can be systemic might be the key of the answer.
But actually, the occurrence of serious infections in people with RA is not fully understood yet. However, experts are continuously analyzing certain factors that may have a role, these include: