I just read an old post from 2016. I was starting IV Rituxan. Hopefully. I said I felt like I had been in a constant flare for three years. It made me think about others with rheumatoid arthritis and the unique paths that RA takes.
The Arthritis Foundation has said those who start the biologics early in their course of treatment fare better long term than those who haven’t. I started the biologics about three years into my diagnosis. The delay was caused by my diagnosis of two cancers at the same time I was diagnosed with RA. My rheumatologist later regretted the decision.
My RA was also diagnosed when I was older. Symptoms are more severe for elderly onset rheumatoid arthritis (EORA). It’s almost like mother nature is trying to play catchup.
I see my particular RA as a death by a thousand cuts. Debilitating frequent flares where the biologics never help more than fifty percent. Rheumatoid arthritis comes in many flavors. Those finding complete relief from the medical menu are lucky. The rest of us take care of ourselves as best we can.
Fortunately for me, I am not in the 10% of those with RA who have life threatening complications from RA. Those are the poor souls who develop fatal diseases like interstitial lung disease, heart disease, and blood vessels ravaged by atherosclerosis. Severe infections. And a lot of time spent in the hospital.
The increased rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in those
with RA is caused in part by accelerated atherosclerosis
(Hardening of the arteries)
due to the chronic inflammation of RA.
the most common cardiovascular manifestation in RA.
Inflammation is bad for the body. It causes damage.
Early aggressive treatment for RA may reduce the inflammatory process
and reduce the number of deaths due to atherosclerosis.
My Rheumatoid Arthritis Handbook
Although I didn’t start the biologics until three years in, my RA was diagnosed fairly quickly. I was started on methotrexate right away which helped fifty percent. Early treatment will slow progression. I was aware of the damage constant inflammation can do to the body. So, I saw medical treatment as important.
I am lucky to be partners with my RA Doc. I don’t always agree with her, but she has seen me through many hard times. I am lucky to have her. It is difficult to manage rheumatoid arthritis without good medical help whether a rheumatologist or a well-informed primary.