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Find out what you need to know about RA and lung disease. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people with rheumatoid arthritis will develop ILD over the course of their disease, making it as deadly among people with RA as congestive heart failure. What Is Interstitial Lung Disease? Interstitial lung disease refers to a group of disorders characterized by inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. In the case of RA-associated ILD, the scarring is caused when the over-active immune system attacks the lungs.
When the scarring builds up over time, breathing becomes difficult, and patients may need lung transplants to regain function. The risk of developing lung disease is eight times higher in people with RA than in the general population. However, most people with RA are not affected. People with RA who smoke are more likely to develop ILD. People who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis after age 60 are more likely to develop ILD. Men with RA have a two-to-three times higher risk of developing ILD than women.
Treatment with methotrexate and other DMARDs. Teng Moua, a pulmonologist specializing in ILD at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 1 percent and is reversible once the drug is stopped. Moua, the benefits of methotrexate far outweigh its risks.