Kostas N. Botsoglou, MD, provides an overview of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs) or connective tissue diseases by discussing their overall characteristics, common comorbidities, and impact on patient quality of life.
Kostas N. Botsoglou, MD: Characteristics of systemic autoimmune diseases can include fatigue, fever, myalgias, arthritis, Raynaud phenomenon, and organ involvement, including the GI [gastrointestinal] tract, cardiovascular system, hematologic abnormalities, and neurological symptoms. These diseases are chronic with an unknown etiology, including immunologic abnormalities, especially antibody production.
Some of the associated comorbidities can include depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, joint symptoms such as arthritis, and dermatologic manifestations such as rash.
Some of the comorbidities seen in chronic autoimmune diseases can include inflammatory joint symptoms, such as morning stiffness and joint pain in the peripheral joints. It can include a rash that may be photosensitive. It can include other organ involvement, such as the GI tract and the cardiovascular system, which may manifest as chest pain or pleurisy, and changes in bowel habits. Abnormalities were also seen hematologically, such as changes in hematologic counts, decreased cell lines, and neurological symptoms.
Our role as rheumatologists is to keep disease activity managed and partially improve quality of life. Often, we can measure that by performing questionnaires in the office and asking our patients to what degree of difficulty they can perform certain tasks, including getting dressed or getting out of bed, climbing up a flight of stairs, washing their body, and picking up something. It’s important that our patients remain functional and can be active while maintaining low disease activity.
Transcript Edited for Clarity