Merck Manual

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Introduction to Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders

By

Alana M. Nevares

, MD, The University of Vermont Medical Center

Last full review/revision Feb 2020| Content last modified Feb 2020
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Autoimmune rheumatic disorders include diverse syndromes such as

Rheumatoid arthritis and the spondyloarthropathies and their variants are also immune mediated. The triggers and pathophysiology are incompletely understood for these disorders, but many aspects of pathogenesis are becoming clearer, enabling the development of more specific therapies.

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

Patients who receive moderate doses of corticosteroids plus another immunosuppressive drug should usually receive prophylaxis for opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis jirovecii (see prevention of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia).

Corticosteroids also the increase risk of osteoporosis.

Key Points

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

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

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