Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)

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What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

With early, aggressive treatment, the outlook for those affected by rheumatoid arthritis can be very good. The overall attitude regarding ability to control the disease has changed tremendously since the turn of the century. Doctors now strive to eradicate any signs of active disease while preventing flare-ups. The disease can be controlled and a cooperative effort by the doctor and patient can lead to optimal health.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes disability and can increase mortality and decrease life expectancy to lead to an early death. Patients have a less favorable outlook when they have deformity, disability, ongoing uncontrolled joint inflammation, and/or rheumatoid disease affecting other organs of the body. Overall, rheumatoid arthritis tends to be potentially more damaging when rheumatoid factor or citrulline antibody is demonstrated by blood testing.

Is it possible to prevent rheumatoid arthritis?

Currently, there is no specific prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Because cigarette smoking, exposure to silica mineral, and chronic periodontal disease all increase the risk for rheumatoid arthritis, these conditions should be avoided.

What research is being done on rheumatoid arthritis?

Scientists throughout the world are studying many promising areas of new treatment approaches for rheumatoid arthritis. Indeed, treatment guidelines are evolving with the availability of newer treatments. These areas include treatments that block the action of the special inflammation factors, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNFalpha), B-cell and T-cell function, as well as interleukin-1 (IL-1), as described above. Many other drugs are being developed that act against certain critical white blood cells and chemical messengers involved in rheumatoid inflammation. Also, new NSAIDs with mechanisms of action that are different from current drugs are on the horizon.

Better methods of more accurately defining which patients are more likely to develop more aggressive disease are becoming available. Recent antibody research has found that the presence of citrulline antibodies in the blood (see above, in diagnosis) has been associated with a greater tendency toward more destructive forms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies involving various types of the connective tissue collagen are in progress and show encouraging signs of reducing rheumatoid disease activity. Finally, genetic research and engineering are likely to bring forth many new avenues for earlier diagnosis and accurate treatment in the near future. Gene profiling, also known as gene array analysis, is being identified as a helpful method of defining which people will respond to which medications. Studies are under way that are using gene array analysis to determine which patients will be at more risk for more aggressive disease. This is all occurring because of improvements in technology. We are at the threshold of tremendous improvements in the way rheumatoid arthritis is managed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/24/2014

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Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms at the onset of your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatments Question: What treatments have been effective for your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Prognosis Question: What's the prognosis for your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Diet Question: Discuss the diet or other lifestyle changes you've made to relieve symptoms of RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Diagnosis Question: What led to your rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis?