Multi-morbidities in Rheumatoid Arthritis

An update from the European rheumatology conference in Madrid (EULAR) as reported by our pharmacist Carolyn Whiskin.  

A review of 56,000 patients from the Mayo Clinic databank was reviewed to determine what common disease states people had prior to their diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and which ones they were more likely to develop as a result of having the condition.

The findings of this data assessment showed that prior to the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis the following diseases are more likely to be present then in the normal population: inflammatory bowel disease, Type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, osteoarthritis, and thyroid disease. Once a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis has been made, conditions that are more likely to develop then in the general population include: cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis, obstructive sleep apnea, and lymphoma. The risk of developing these other conditions often is increased when disease activity is higher and the person has carried the burden of inflammation for a long period of time. The risk of plaque formation in blood vessels is greater in those who also have high blood pressure and diabetes.

This shows the importance of good screening for other conditions that may have a greater likelihood in people with high levels of inflammation. It also underscores the importance of disease control and being on treatments that will lower the burden of inflammation as soon as the condition is diagnosed. 

Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis are much more involved than what is happening in the joints or on the skin. 

Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.


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