Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mortality and RA

There are a lot of articles written about shorter life spans for people with RA. We have all read them, having rheumatoid arthritis is considered a risk factor for heart disease. Could it be that cardiac problems associated with RA are due, in part, to a lack of physical activity due to disability or chronic fatigue? Many RA patients are diabled within 15 years after diagnosis. It is common knowledge that muscles that aren’t used will atrophy. The same would be true for the heart, since after all, it is a muscle.
This is why I try to push myself to workout, at least a little bit, even on days when I don't feel like it. It doesn't have to be a grueling 90 minute workout that pummels you into a sweat induced, dehydrated coma. A simple 20 minute workout of walking or some light dumbbell exercises each day will help. The main thing is just getting started. Believe me, I know it's hard, but once you feel it working, you will want to do more. Also, weight bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, another secondary effect of RA.
It is important that we, as RAer's, manage our risk for heart disease by monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. Easier said than done, I need to lose weight, but I do work out, monitor my blood pressure twice weekly and have yearly physicals with bloodwork done. It's our responsibility to make healthy lifestyle choices for ourselves, our doctors can not do that for us.

9 comments:

Cathy said...

This is so true. As I have added on medications, it is even more important to me that I follow a good diet and keep my immune system as strong as possible. Plus, I love feeling my muscles as they are strengthening. And you are right, staying healthy is up to us. We can't count on doctors or other people to do it.

Laurie Grassi said...

I'm liking your plan, Tharr! Good on you! Especially when we all know how hard it can be sometimes. Heck, it's hard for anyone to motivate him/herself to move lol! :) L

tharr said...

Cathy, I hate taking any type of medication, but the meds we take for RA are down right scary with all of the side effects. I also love feeling myself get stronger.

Laurie, Thanks. Somedays it's hard for me to just get out of bed, much less workout.

mary said...

Very well said. As hard as it is to motivate some days I do feel better afterwards. Well maybe not physically better but certainly mentally better. The trick is to find something you enjoy.

tharr said...

Well said Mary, making it fun will keep you motivated and looking forward to your workouts. If you don't like your workout, it will be easy to find a reason not to do it. Like us RAer's need to look for a reason, somedays its a workout just putting one foot in front of the other walking into the gym.

livingwithra said...

Thanks for the swift kick in the rear...I've been laying around all day!
Andrew

tharr said...

Andrew, no kick intended. We all have days where we just can't move due to the pain or fatigue. I don't beat myself up over laying around, I just look forward to the next day and hope that it is better.

Living It, Loving It said...

I often feel like those articles are probably right. Who really wants to live with this much pain? Life spans are cut because of the complexity and stress added to our lives – that is what make life shorter.

I disagree with you on the 15 year disability mark. A lot of has changed in the treatment area for RA and treatment is showing progress. Also, people are learning how to take care of themselves including exercise and nutritional supplements. They are also making the choice to better look after themselves and to educate themselves as much as they can about their conditions and you are I perfect examples of that. I am not saying it is easy especially when your life involves running 100 mph in 100 directions – like me, but it is possible. I think that the craziness of my life is what does not allow RA to win.

“I need to lose weight, but I do work out, monitor my blood pressure twice weekly and have yearly physicals with bloodwork done.” – yeah, me too. ;) But I learn everyday how to make better choices towards my health – when I cook, how well I sleep (I love naps), how I manage stress and how I create a successful work-life balance that resolves around my disease. It is not easy, but it keeps me going because I know if I slow down, RA wins.

tharr said...

Lana, I think you are probably right on the 15 year mark, I just ran across that number while writing this and used it, I've never really thought about disability much. I've had RA for seven years and don't feel much worse off than after I got started with my treatments. You're right, we are taking better care of ourselves now and between educating ourselves about our disease, working out and eating better, that is bound to prolong the disability mark.

I slow down occasionally, to catch my breath before speeding back up. The key for me is to not stop. As I'm typing this, my dog is here beside me asleep ... snoring. Somedays I envy her.