RA stands for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with this disease of the joints are often referred for an evaluation of their lung function following a cat scan of the chest revealing fibrotic (scarring) in the lungs. This is one of the more common lung problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis. However, some recent observations have brought other lung issues to our attention. COPD, a common lung disease which we have discussed many times, may be associated with RA.

Patients with RA have an almost 2 times higher risk of developing COPD even if they did not smoke. Patients with RA may be referred to as seropositive based on blood test data or seronegative if blood tests do not show certain makers. Patient with seropositive RA have a higher risk of developing COPD that the seronegative patients.

Bronchiectasis is a disease of the airways. Patients with bronchiectasis have a dilatation of the larger airways caused by repeated episodes of inflammation. This causes the airways to lose their integrity and become 'flabby' leading to frequent infections and occasional serious bleeding. Patients with RA have twice the risk of developing bronchiectasis. This risk was more evident in patients who were seropositive for RA.

Patients with RA should have initial and then periodic evaluations of their lung function and anatomy so that treatments may be initiated that will reduce symptoms and preserve their lung function. Call us if you need help with pulmonary symptoms associated with RA at Altoona Lung Specialists 814-946-2845.