Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many organs. For example, it can affect the parenchyma (the "meat") of the lungs resulting in less gas exchange and elasticity, increasing hardening of the arteries which can lead to increased susceptibility to atherosclerosis (which leads to cardiovascular disease), stiffness of the upper cervical spine especially C2 which can lead to increased risk of fracture and possible paralysis during procedures like general anesthesia when one is intubated with a breathing tube, inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis) which can affect organs all over the body, inflammation & swelling of the heart's outer wall (pericarditis) causing chest pain and decreased cardiac output and efficiency, swelling/inflammation of the heart muscle itself (myocarditis) leading to heart failure, and abnormal bone growth noticeably in the fingers leading to ulnar deviation in which the fingers now permanently point towards the pinky instead of straight out. These and other complications can be mitigated by medication, follow-up, and exercise.
- Q Will rheumatoid arthritis (RA) erode my joints?
- Q Can rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cause me to lose my voice?
- Q What is rheumatoid arthritis of the hip?
- Q Does rheumatoid arthritis (RA) put me at greater risk for disabilities?
- Q Is Rheumatoid Arthritis an inflammatory disorder?
- Q What is a swan-neck deformity of the hand with RA?