What is Involved in a Rheumatoid Arthritis Prognosis?

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  • Written By: Vicki Watson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 March 2020
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A chronic inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) progressively attacks a patient’s joints, causing pain, swelling and possible disability. The disease might also attack other bodily organs and become life-threatening. Close to 10 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis suffer severe disability. Patients also might have a shortened life expectancy because of the disease. The rheumatoid arthritis prognosis for 70 percent of patients, however, includes a normal life of participating in normal activities.

RA continually attacks the individual’s joints, causing levels of pain and swelling that vary depending upon the severity of the disease and the swiftness at which treatment is sought. Symptoms range from mild to disabling. The disease typically attacks major joints such as wrists, fingers and ankles. Seeking treatment as early as possible positively affects the patient’s rheumatoid arthritis prognosis and reduces the likelihood that the disease will impede his or her ability to continue normal daily living activities.


Part of a patient’s rheumatoid arthritis prognosis includes a shortened life expectancy. For a typical person suffering with the disease, life expectancy might be shortened anywhere between three and seven years. A patient who has severe rheumatoid arthritis could have 10-15 years cut from his or her life by suffering one of the possible complications that the disease can present. The mortality rate for rheumatoid arthritis patients is 38 percent higher than for the general population. Even though medical technology has given the general population an improved mortality rate, the typical rheumatoid arthritis prognosis has not improved.

Among the complications of rheumatoid arthritis that potentially result in death, cardiovascular disease comprises close to half of the fatalities. A patient who has RA would do well to consider discussing the best ways to maintain heart health with his or her doctor in order to maintain as positive a rheumatoid arthritis prognosis as possible. A patient also should discuss how to recognize the symptoms of infection with his or her physician, because this is estimated to cause death in about 25 percent of RA patients.

A rheumatoid arthritis patient has a higher likelihood of mortality than a healthy person does, but an RA sufferer should not allow the rheumatoid arthritis prognosis to dishearten him or her. Research has continued to help scientists develop ways to relieve symptoms and has helped increase hope for preserving a normal life and life span for RA patients. Additionally, seeking treatment as close as possible to the onset increases the patient’s chances for a positive outcome.


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