Autoimmune disease: the threat from within
Our immune system uses an “army” of blood cells to target and destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses that threaten to make us ill.
But in some people, the cells of the immune system become dysfunctional and mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues, resulting in autoimmune disease.
Affecting some 2 million Canadians, autoimmune diseases are among the most common and debilitating of all chronic diseases. One such disease is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition which often begins silently, months before the person feels pain or shows signs of disease.
Without intervention, the inflammatory process leads to severe pain, joint damage and dysfunction, poor quality of life and even premature death.
Rheumatic autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), scleroderma, vasculitis and lupus affect not only the joints, but also connective tissue and other organs. Non-rheumatic autoimmune diseases include Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, and multiple sclerosis.
Autoimmune diseases not only reduce the quality of people’s lives they can also dramatically shorten lives. In fact, autoimmune inflammation is now known to increase people’s risk of dying, particularly from a heart attack and/or stroke.
Sinai Health System’s Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Disease is committed to eliminating the impact of arthritis on people’s lives. We need your help to save and transform lives.