Arthritis ups risk of lung disease in women


Life, Health

Early symptoms include frequent chest infections and chesty coughs.

Representational Image. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington: Beware, if there is inflammation in joints! As a study recently warns that people, especially women, with rheumatoid arthritis are 50 percent more chance to develop a lung disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints. It is this inflammation which is thought to lead to COPD - the umbrella term for diseases from emphysema to acute bronchitis which can cause wheezing and breathlessness so bad that it can hamper daily activities.

According to researchers, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have a 47 percent greater risk of the lung condition, while women with the condition see their danger rise by 61 percent. Lead author Dr Diane Lacaille from the University of British Columbia said, "These findings are novel because it has only recently been recognised that inflammation plays a role in the development of COPD, and clinicians treating people with rheumatoid arthritis are not aware that their patients are at increased risk of developing COPD."

Almost 25,000 people with arthritis were monitored for over a decade. The research showed that rheumatoid arthritis not only affects joints, but also lung disease. The authors emphasised the importance of getting the inflammation under control as soon as possible.

Early symptoms include frequent chest infections and chesty coughs, as well as waking up in the night feeling breathless. The researchers followed 24,625 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 25,396 people who were free of the condition to record how many were hospitalised with COPD.

To prevent this problem say anti-inflammatory drugs should be given to people in arthritis as quickly as possible. Dr Lacaille added that the results emphasise the need to control inflammation, and in fact to aim for complete eradication of inflammation through effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

The research appears in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.