The burden of comorbid diseases is high among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These are often systemic manifestations of RA but may be chronic conditions that predate or develop post-RA diagnosis. Increased mortality in RA is predominantly from nonarticular causes. The expanded armamentarium of disease-modifying drugs and biologics available has revolutionized management of articular disease but has made safe treatment of RA more complex. Drug-induced organ injury and side effects need to be kept in mind when initiating or modifying therapy.
Comorbidities, including cardiovascular (CV) and central nervous system (CNS) disease, chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes, and lung disease are common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Drugs used to treat RA contribute to morbidity in RA, either by causing the comorbid condition or due to heightened risk of toxicity due to the comorbid condition.
Differentiating drug-related and disease-related morbidity is essential to successful management of risk in patients with RA who have multiple morbidities.