You can add lower gastrointestinal problems like ulcers, bleeding and perforations to the list of serious complications facing many rheumatoid arthritis patients. In a recent study it was determined they are at greater risk for GI problems and gastrointestinal-related death than people without the disease. Mayo Clinic researchers say their findings point out the need for new ways to prevent and treat lower GI disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients; the incidence of lower gastrointestinal complications is rising even as upper GI problems decrease significantly among rheumatoid arthritis patients.
"Our findings emphasize that physicians and patients must be vigilant for these complications, which can occur without causing abdominal pain,” says co-author Eric Matteson, M.D., rheumatology chairman at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “Especially stopping smoking and reducing the use of corticosteroids would appear to be important in reducing the risk of major lower GI complications.”
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