Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition. However, it’s not yet known what
triggers your body’s immune system to attack its own healthy tissue. Your
immune system normally makes antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses,
helping to fight infection.
If you have RA, your immune system mistakenly sends antibodies to the lining of your joints where they attack the tissue surrounding the joint. This causes the thin layer of cells covering your joints (synovium) to become sore and inflamed, releasing chemicals that damage nearby bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
If RA is not treated, these chemicals gradually cause the joint to lose its shape and alignment and can eventually destroy the joint completely. There are various theories about why the immune system attacks the joints, but there is still no firm consensus in the medical community about how RA is developed. There are, however, possible risk factors associated with the condition. These include:
· Genes: There is evidence that RA can run in families.
· Hormones: RA is more common in women than men, which might suggest it is linked to estrogen.
· Smoking: Evidence suggests that smokers have an increased risk of developing RA.
RA and Inflammation
Essentially, RA is a condition of inflammation, and a line of defense to help combat this inflammation as well as progression of the disease is with diet. Foods considered inflammatory and that should be avoided include:
· Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastry and pasta
· Fried foods of any kind
· Sugar and margarine
· Red and processed meats
Foods considered anti-inflammatory and should be consumed in quantity include:
· Olive oil
· Green leavy vegetables like spinach and kale
· Nuts including almonds and walnuts
· Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines
· Many varieties of fruit
RA and Infusion Therapy
In addition to medications prescribed by your physician and altering your diet, your doctor may suggest infusion therapy as another line of defense against RA. There are a number of available biologics used for RA infusion therapy. Some of these include:
· Abatacept (brand name Orencia). Abatacept attaches to and blocks the action of cells that promote inflammation. Infusions are usually once every 2 weeks to start, and then monthly after that. Each infusion takes about 30 minutes. You may not see the full effects of abatacept until you’ve been on it for 3 months or longer.
· Infliximab (Remicade). This belongs to a group of drugs called TNF-inhibitors. They block a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in your blood that promotes inflammation. Each infusion can take
up to 4 hours. You’ll usually get three infusions in the first 6 weeks of treatment, and then once every 8 weeks. Your symptoms may start to improve after two to three doses.
· Rituximab (Rituxan). This medication belongs to a group of drugs
called B-cell inhibitors. You’ll usually get two infusions spaced 2 weeks
apart. Patients often improve on the medicine after about 3 months. The effects
could last for up to a year.
At Heartland Infusion Pharmacy, we not only can address all your RA infusion therapy needs, but we stock more than 40 of the most commonly prescribed IV medications and have immediate access to hundreds more upon the order of your physician.
Our facility is comfortable, quiet and private, and our technicians and staff are friendly and highly knowledgeable. If you suffer with RA, at Heartland, we’ll help you manage the condition with as pleasant an experience as is possible.