Can Arthritis Cause Death?

Arthritis itself is not typically a direct cause of death, but it can contribute to serious health complications that may increase the risk of mortality. Here are some ways in which arthritis can indirectly contribute to an increased risk of death:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. Chronic inflammation plays a significant role in the development of atherosclerosis, which can lead to these conditions.
  • Infections: Certain forms of arthritis and their treatments can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. For example, biologic drugs and corticosteroids used to treat RA can suppress the immune system, increasing the risk of serious infections.
  • Comorbidities: People with arthritis often have other chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. These comorbidities can complicate the management of arthritis and contribute to an overall higher risk of serious health issues and mortality.
  • Reduced Mobility and Physical Activity: Arthritis can lead to significant pain and disability, reducing mobility and physical activity. This can result in complications like muscle wasting, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of falls and fractures, which can be life-threatening, particularly in older adults.
  • Complications from Surgery: Individuals with severe arthritis may require joint replacement surgery. While generally safe, these surgeries carry risks, especially in older adults or those with multiple health issues, including complications from anesthesia, infections, or cardiovascular events.
  • Systemic Effects: Some forms of arthritis, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis, can affect multiple organ systems, including the kidneys, lungs, and heart. These systemic effects can lead to severe complications and increase the risk of death.

While arthritis itself is not usually fatal, its associated complications and the increased risk of other health conditions make it a serious concern that requires comprehensive management. Early diagnosis and effective treatment of arthritis, along with management of associated health risks, can help improve quality of life and reduce the risk of severe complications. If you have arthritis, it’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to manage the disease and monitor for potential complications.