Rheumatoid Arthritis Mortality | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Rheumatoid Arthritis Mortality

Rheumatoid Arthritis mortality: 40% increased risk

Investigators at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) recently found Rheumatoid arthritis mortality to be significantly increased. A 40 percent greater overall risk of death, especially death due to respiratory or cardiovascular causes, is discussed in BWH’s recent press release, Rheumatoid arthritis linked to increased risk of death, which describes an investigation of data from the Nurse’s Health Study. About 1000 women diagnosed with RA were compared with other women to detect the higher mortality rate.

rheumatoid arthritis mortality news

The strong feature of this mortality study is that researchers specifically controlled for numerous other factors that impact mortality. So age, smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and diet (and other factors) would not muddle the results. Rheumatoid disease was found to be significantly associated with both cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, but not cancer.

A story of rheumatoid arthritis mortality that has touched many hearts

Specific risks with seropositive disease

People with rheumatoid disease (PRD) were divided into seronegative and seropositive groups in this study. Significant differences between the groups were found. Researchers found a nearly three-fold increase in risk of respiratory mortality in seropositive PRD compared to similar women without RD. Those with seronegative disease did not have an increased risk of respiratory mortality.

The lungs have been studied as a significant part of the rheumatoid disease puzzle. We have discussed how rheumatoid disease may even begin in the lungs. This makes sense when we realize that RD is a systemic disease and not only a joint condition.

What to make of the Rheumatoid Arthritis mortality discussion?

In 2014, I read a report that a British study had found mortality for people with rheumatoid disease, while still elevated, is improving with modern treatments. However, just a few months before that, a different English study concluded that compared with the general population, rheumatoid disease mortality rates have “not improved over the past 20 years.” We have previously discussed similar mortality findings in Mayo Clinic’s large cohort studies in Minnesota.

There are obviously rheumatoid arthritis mortality questions that haven’t been answered. For several years I’ve encouraged PRD to fight for as much life and as best health as possible. That doesn’t mean the exact same path for each of us, but we all share this battle to push back the mortality dragon.

This is the reason for the RA Care Toolbox and the RA Map, and more Warrior tools in the works. Make sure you’re signed up so you don’t miss anything.

Recommended reading

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

18 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis Mortality

  • January 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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    Hello everyone. I just wanted to write about my mother-in-law who passed away last May.She was seropositive and had been diagnosed with Fibro cystic lung disease as well as hypertensive lungs. I have often thought this was due to RD. Now I know it was. She often stated she knew the disease was not going to get better. She had been a heavy smoker back in the 90’s and smoked for nearly 30 years. Sadly though no one–including her doctors–made the connection about her RD. She was not educated at all about RD and when she would have pain for example in her collarbone she thought it was fibromyalgia which I also have.

    I too have RD but I am seronegative. I have tremendous pain and am on Plaquenil, Tramadol, Methotrexate and receive Remicade every 6 weeks. My infusions used to scare my mother-in-law, but I told her that it helps me TREMENDOUSLY! She was 85 and when she was diagnosed back in the 80’s they didn’t have Remicade. It is so sad that these findings have come out, but information is a positive weapon that we can use to fight this horrid disease.Thank you RA Warrior for all of the work that you do to educate all of us. God bless you!

    Reply
  • January 15, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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    This is a sobering reminder, but better to be informed, sober and determined than complacent. Thanks for all of the news and information you’re working so hard to share.

    Reply
  • January 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm
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    I have severe RA for 13 years now, it came on like a freight train. Went to my family doc who advised me to see a rheumatologist which I did. I was in so much pain and on so many meds and nothing worked. I am trying to make this a short version yes I had lung involvement and yes I had 2 major lung surgeries and in the hospital each time for 6-8 weeks! Was sent to Tucson Medical center for a double lung transplant due to RA! I did see a awesome doctor who back then wanted me to try Rituxan and so I did and low and behold it cleared up my lungs. My rheumy back then this was 2006-09 told me that people used to die from what I had related to RA. She will not change my meds I’m on Rituxan, Arava, Medrol and also a Anti fungal med since I live in Arizona and most thought what was in my lungs was valley fever. I did end up also having aspergillosis in the lungs so I will always be on the anti fungals. I see a great rheumy a great pulmonary doc and I’m only 55 with the majority of lung surgeries in my mid 40’s! Went home with chest tubes after being in the hospital for 2 months! I just wanted to go home! My lungs kept collapsing when they would try to shut the tubes off so I went home with chest tubes in for another few months. I was taken off the transplant list due to the Rituxan and called a miracle by many doctors! I still have all the reports, have all my transplants info, have all my scans showing all the damage. So many for so long never would believe me or even fathom what RA has done to me. That has been since like I said for 13 years and I have had many, many more surgeries since then.
    I guess what I’m saying is organ involvement has and is still around in RA patients and not to be afraid to try the drugs available to us today!
    I am thankful so very thankful, I’m one alive and though not doing the best with my RA I’m still around to talk about it!

    Reply
    • January 15, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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      Wow. Kathleen, you’ve been through so much with this monster. Thank you for sharing with us.

      Reply
  • January 15, 2016 at 9:48 pm
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    Lt brown, what was her collarbone pain?

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  • January 16, 2016 at 12:14 am
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    Kathleen, my lungs were not nearly as bad as were yours. I have Interstitial Lung Disease, aka: rheumatoid lung. (RA for 54+ years.) When I was on Remicade, my lungs worsened considerably. I was switched to Rituxan. My lungs have improved dramatically! My pulmonologist was thrilled. He couldn’t hear anything adverse from my lungs! Finally, my rheumatologist told me about a major hospital that was conducting a drug trial using Rituxan for ILD.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2016 at 12:57 pm
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    I too have lung involvement from RA, and was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease (ILD) in 2012. It was, at the time, at the “groind glass” stage which is considered early and called that because it apparently looks like ground glass in the lung tissue on a CT scan. At the time my biologic had failed after several years and I was not doing well at all. For some reason they didn’t do another scan until this last July 2015, but they found that the ground glass opacity in my lung tissue has resolved (YAY!!!). I’ve been on mtx, plaquinil, a NSAID and several biologics since that horrible flare in 2012 and none of the biologics seem to work for me, but I begin to wonder if things might not be better than they seem because that lung issue has cleared. I’ve asked if we can consider my ILD diagnosis resolved and was told no to that, and I often wonder if this is something that will flare up like all of my other symptoms. That’s on my list for my next rheumy visit, and I’m planning to ask about this article as well. I find this article disappointing because I thought that our mortality rates were improving with the biologics and other med combos we’re taking now! Finally, I’ve become good friends with Kathleen Walter. In the beginning we felt like kindred spirits with our lung disease, and while I know her story well, it’s very dramatic reading it here. Kathleen is an example of the people out there who are living the best life they possibly can despite everything this awful disease has put her through, and it’s amazing how much grit and grace she displays as she negotiates life with severe RA and all of the things she gets thrown at her. My dear friend is a true warrior!

    Reply
    • January 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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      That is so beautiful Teresa. thanks for sharing with us. I’m glad your lungs are doing better.
      You also articulate what RAW is about so well.

      Reply
  • January 16, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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    Kathleen, your story is so informative, inspiring & helpful! You’ve been through the mill, suffering from such dangerous aspects of RA. But by perservering, & with good medical care, you beat the odds! I wish you well!

    Reply
  • January 16, 2016 at 7:41 pm
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    Hello everyone! I am just beginning this journey and it seems a bit frightful. I had a blood test two weeks ago and rheumatoid arthritis did not show up in my blood but I know that there is something wrong. The joints in my wrists are so swollen and I can not open a jar or grab things the way I used to. It has really changed within the last few months. I have insisted my general doctor send me to a rheumatologist because I am in pain constantly. Reading these entries I have had three or four instances where my vocal cords have frozen and I have not been able to breathe. Thank goodness I had the good sense to try to relax myself and my throat had opened back up but I am wondering if these symptoms have all been part of RA. I also have noticed that I have been shorter of breath when I am teaching which involves a lot of talking and feel at times, huge lumps in my throat. I am waiting for the insurance company to approve my request to see a specialist but am unsure what I should do in the meantime. I hope and pray for all of RA sufferers, I am humbled by the pain you have all endured, I send my best. Will keep you informed and thank you for listening and being here for me.

    Reply
  • Pingback: How Do You Live Well with Rheumatoid Arthritis when it has a Mortality Risk? | America Times

  • February 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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    Thank you for all of the info! I have recently been diagnosed with RA but had what they call “glass” in my lungs that was found before my diagnoses. I am now wondering if it is RA related and not just from smoking. I have been having a hard time getting treatment for my RA so far because of my age, so far my GP has only been giving me Prednisone occasionally so I can make it to the rheumatologist, my goodness it hurts! I will definitely bring up my lung issues at the appointment though, thanks everyone 🙂

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    • February 23, 2016 at 9:22 pm
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      good to meet you Erica. Please do take care of your lungs. You’ll need a lung specialist to follow your case and be sure to keep him/her informed about your RA / RD. There are a couple of articles that discuss lungs and RD if you put lung into the search box at teh top of my page.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2016 at 3:22 pm
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    Thank you Kelly! I have quit smoking since at least and didn’t realize it could be related. Good to know there is a search box, there is just so much info on this site and I apparently have a lot of good reading to do.

    Reply
  • March 11, 2016 at 6:29 am
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    Thanks for sharing valuable info…People with RA are at increased risk of heart disease, particularly ischemic heart disease. RA patients are more likely to be hospitalized due to myocardial infarction, angina, or congestive heart failure.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more research is needed to learn if this is due to RA, high-risk lifestyle factors such as smoking, or drugs used to treat RA.

    Reply
  • Pingback: Our Friend Died from Rheumatoid Disease | Handicap Accommodations

  • January 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm
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    RA-Lung here. They said last year I have 2 to 4 years, average, depending on how fast I progress. Yes, RA can kill. Once it hit my lungs, it doesn’t even bother much with the rest of my joints as it used to. Its all about the lungs now. And now with the lungs involved, I’m permanently on prednisone. RA-Lung – Game Changer (or Game Over – either way its a death sentence).

    Reply

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