The Arthritis Newsletter

Spring 2013

Arthritis Can Shorten Lives

By Sheila Kerr


A Patient’s Report from the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting


I was honoured to be able to attend the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Meeting in November 2012. Researchers from The Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC) were well represented at this conference, both as participants and presenters.


Although many themes were addressed, to me, an important topic of research concerned the prospect of saving lives. I learned that although sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are commonly known causes of heart disease, so is arthritis. I also learned that inflammatory arthritis can contribute to premature death, but also how research is finding ways to help arthritis patients live longer. For example:


  • Marco Yukovich and researcher Dr. Antonio Avina presented a paper about systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and early death. This study showed that there is an increased risk of early death in patients with SLE as compared to the general population.
  • Dr. Diane Lacaille presented a study that shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also have an increased chance of dying early, especially of heart disease and strokes. The good news — Dr. Lacaille’s new study shows that taking biologic agents showed a significant reduction in early death.
  • Dr. Linda Li is currently collaborating with patients in designing an aid to help those recently diagnosed with RA to decide, in consultation with their doctors, whether to take biologic agents or to use other treatment options. This builds on her earlier decision aid for taking Methotrexate.


ARC researchers believe that people with inflammatory arthritis should be aware of the increased risk of dying early from heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, and that there are ways to reduce this risk. I am pleased to invite you to attend an interactive public forum, in person or via webcast, where ARC rheumatologists will speak about who is at risk for early death and the actions you can take to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.


For more information, please visit our online video presentations:

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