BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The old soldiers from our local American Legion Honor Guard fired their rifles into the brittle blue sky over my father's grave. It was December in North Dakota, and the cemetery was knee deep in snow. These men were not much younger than the man they helped bury. Earlier, I had marveled at their dedication to a fellow soldier as I watched them march on aging, unsteady feet, through the snow that lead to the burial site.
The flag was removed from Dad's coffin, ceremoniously folded in a tight triangle and handed to my barely comprehending mother, who had stayed in the funeral home's car with the door open. She would have needed a wheelchair to get closer to the grave and she didn't want to move out of the warm car. Part of her seeming lack of comprehension was dementia , part denial and grief.
After we all had climbed back into the funeral cars, one of the funeral home attendants brought to me six shell casings. He apologized for not finding...
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests .
RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
Rheumatoid Factor (RF) . RF is a type of antibody that may be associated with inflammation. This is usually one of the first tests your family doctor will order if they suspect you might have inflammatory arthritis. However, it’s important to know that 20-30 percent of people with RA are negative for RF (also called seron...
In early June, and for weeks since, news outlets have been writing about a study showing that responsibly drinking five or more servings of wine or other alcohol a week cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50% . Those who drank 1-4 drinks per week cut their risk by about 20%. The researchers believe this is because alcohol is a mild anti-inflammatory. The study was performed by researchers at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The data consisted of two studies in Sweden and Denmark and included 2,750 men and women, 1,650 of whom had rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers found that those who drank regularly, meaning more than three drinks per week, were less likely to develop RA. The effect appeared to be greater for smokers with genetic risk factors for developin...
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