Rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most crippling forms of arthritis, affects over one million men and women of all ages in the United States. While its cause is unknown, rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects one's joints and can increase your risk for other conditions including osteoporsis and heart and lung problems.
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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that mostly affects the joints in the hands, wrists, knees and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis can result in cartilage and bone erosion and joint deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis may also affect other organs including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels, nerves and kidneys.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means a person’s immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround his or her joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems and lung disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is significantly more common in women than in men, and is often first seen in people older than 40 years old. Children and teens can be affected as can the elderly. Although the precise cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, a combination of genetic factors, immunity, environmental factors and hormonal imbalances are thought to play a role in its development.