Study links rheumatoid arthritis to a higher risk of COPD
Researchers have found that people that have rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to be hospitalised for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. COPD is another long-term condition, causing inflammation in the lungs, damage to lung tissue and a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult.
Inflammation is a key aspect of both rheumatoid arthritis and COPD.
In a study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, scientists studied health data of 24,625 people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1996 and 2006, alongside that of 25,396 randomly-selected people without the condition.
They found that people with rheumatoid arthritis had a 47% higher chance of having to be treated in hospital for COPD than those without the condition.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that people with rheumatoid arthritis and their healthcare professionals look out for early signs of COPD – and take action to address risk factors for it, such as smoking. Early diagnosis and treatment of COPD could help to reduce the amount of damage done to the lungs, giving a person a better quality of life.