About Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis belongs to a class of diseases in which the immune system erroneously attacks the body. These are called "autoimmune" diseases. Because it is a systemwide disorder that can affect different parts of the body, RA can cause a variety of symptoms. It can work silently for years without symptoms, as in the early stages of both joint damage and RA lung disease. Symptoms can include joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, persistent cough, shortness of breath and fever. RA affects an estimated 1 percent of the U.S. population, about 2.1 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation, http://www.arthritis.org. Of these, nearly one-half may have some abnormal lung function. Up to one-fourth -- about 500,000 Americans -- develop RA lung disease. In RA lung disease, the air sacs of the lung (alveoli) and the structures that support them become so damaged by inflammation that they become scarred, impairing effective lung functioning.
Collaboration and Support
In addition to Dr. Turesson, other Mayo Clinic investigators included: Eric Matteson, M.D.; Thomas Colby, M.D.; Zvezdana Vuk-Pavlovic, Ph.D.; Robert Vassallo, M.D.; Henry Tazelaar, M.D.; and Andrew Limper, M.D. Cornelia Weyand, M.D., Ph.D., former Mayo Clinic rheumatologists, now working at Emory University in Atlanta, also collaborated.