Rheumatoid Arthritis

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1.3 million Americans have the autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis also known as RA (CNN, 2013). It is more common in woman than in men and it typically effects small joints such as the joints of the hands and feet. Along with effecting small joints, RA typically effects both sides of the body, for example, if the right wrist is effected, typically the left wrist is also effected (Nucleas Medical Media, 2014). Dr Joseph Merola of Brigham and Women’s Hospital claims that individuals with RA are 30-60% more likely to have cardiovascular conditions. 

The clip from CNN mentions that there is higher risk for heart conditions in individuals with RA, but is this true? Can this information be backed up by educational sources? A peer reviewed article, “Rheumatoid arthritis disadvantaged younger patients for cardiovascular (heart) diseases: A meta-analysis” agrees with Dr. Joseph Merola. According to the article, studies showed that there was a higher risk of heart disease in people with RA. The study described in this journal says that RA not only effects the joins of the body but also effects major organs, such as the heart.

As stated before, typical RA symptoms effect the same joint on both sides of the body, according to the video above put out by Nucleas Medical Media. The video also backs up CNNs clip saying that RA is more common in woman than in men. It also explains that besides joints, RA can effect other bodily organs and systems such as:

  • eyes
  • heart
  • lungs
  • bones
  • kidneys
  • nervous system
  • digestive system

A peer reviewed article, “Clinical profile of 266 Filipino patients with rheumatoid arthritis…” explains a study conducted that found RA to typically involve more than one joint at a time. The study actually found that only about 10% of RA cases have RA in just one joint. Of the participants in this study, 91% of them were woman which shows that the majority of individuals with RA are woman. Like the media source above by Nucleus Medical Media states, RA also effects the heart, lungs, bones and kidneys.

Is there a way to control RA without using medications? According to both a medical source by Dr. Angela Agrios, ND (naturopathic doctor) and a peer review article called, “An overview of the role of diet in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis”, certain supplements such as fish oils have been shown to positively effect the symptoms of RA including reducing inflammation and pain in the joins. Dr. Angel Agrios, ND claims that elimination diets are the key to treating RA without medication. She claims in a clip from youtube that processed sugar, refined flour and trans fat can negatively effect RA symptoms and that diets rich in whole foods are the most effective for RA. 

An article titled, “An overview of the role of diet in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis” does not agree with Dr. Angela Agrios’ statements about elimination diets. The article does agree that RA symptoms were improved due to diet changes but says that the connection between the two is not clear enough for a definite answer due to bias opinions.

For the most part, RA is well known and well studies so the information being provided in the media and the information studied in peer reviewed articles agree with each other. Some things such as the best diets for RA may not have definitive information due to the difference in individual needs.

Sources:

Fransen, J. (2016) Rheumatoid arthritis disadvantages younger patients for      cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis. PLOS ONE, 1-12.

O’connor, A. (2013). An overview of the role of the diet in the treatment of        rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition Bulletin, 39, 74-88.

Penserga, E. (2014). Clinical profile of 266 Filipino patients with rheumatoid  arthritis included in the rheumatoid arthritis database and registry of Philippine  General Hospital. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, 18, 433-438.

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