If you have RA, make sure your doc checks
your kidneys. Find out why… next RA Puts Kidneys at Risk Marianne Wait writing for Arthritis Today
reported people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are almost 5 percent more likely than
other people to develop reduced kidney function, a sign of chronic kidney disease, according
to a study published recently in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
Although that figure may not sound high, senior study author Eric Matteson, MD, chair of the
rheumatology department at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says it’s significant.
“It’s a big deal when you think there’s 1.5 million patients with RA, and how frequent
kidney disease is becoming in the population.” This study looked at the health records of
1,623 people – 813 people who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1980 and
2007 and 813 people without RA who were similar in terms of age, gender, weight and other
factors. Among those who had normal kidney function when they entered the study, 25 percent
of those with RA and 20 percent of those without RA developed mildly or moderately reduced
kidney function over 20 years. There was no difference in the rate of severe kidney dysfunction.
RA patients who had high levels of inflammation in the first year after RA diagnosis (as measured
by the blood test known as erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or “sed rate”) were more likely
than others to develop reduced kidney function. “The general conclusion from that is that
inflammation is a risk factor for renal dysfunction,” says Dr. Matteson.
Comment: The risk is not impressive at first glance but it is significant.