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Introduction to Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders

By Rula A. Hajj-ali, MD, Associate Professor;Staff Physician, Center of Vasculitis Care and Research, Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University;Cleveland Clinic

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Patient Education

Autoimmune rheumatic disorders include diverse syndromes such as eosinophilic fasciitis, mixed connective tissue disease, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, relapsing polychondritis, Sjögren syndrome, SLE, and systemic sclerosis. RA and the spondyloarthropathies and their variants are also immune mediated. The triggers and precise pathophysiology remain unknown for all these disorders, although many aspects of pathogenesis are becoming clearer.

Key Points

  • Patients with most autoimmune rheumatic disorders are at increased risk of atherosclerosis.

  • Patients who receive corticosteroids plus another immunosuppressive drug should usually receive prophylaxis for opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis jirovecii.