Can rheumatoid arthritis afflict anyone at any age? Does it favor men more than women? How can rheumatoid arthritis negatively impact one's health? All these questions and more are answered as Rheumatologist Dr. Ariel Teitel, explains the risk factors and potential complications associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Dr. Teitel: There's two age peaks for rheumatoid arthritis. The child bearing age for women, and men as well, so 20s to 30s, and there's another increased incidence at around 50, 60. There's a juvenile instance of rheumatoid arthritis, and you can get it in the geriatric stage. Rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent in women, it's seen more in women then men, but men certainly get it. Family history is important, but not everybody with rheumatoid arthritis has a close, say 1st degrees relative with rheumatoid; it's genetics and environment. Of course smoking is not good anyway, but it also makes your rheumatoid arthritis worse, and it does put you at increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis. The long term complications of rheumatoid arthritis are many. There's a small risk of lymphoma and possibly leukemia. There's a small risk of cancers with active rheumatoid arthritis as well. Heart disease is substantially increased in people with active rheumatoid arthritis, but it's been shown, and there are many studies showing that if you can control that rheumatoid arthritis, then that heart risk increase can be brought down.
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