Owing to the report of an association between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and obliterative bronchiolitis we have determined the prevalence of airflow obstruction in unselected patients with RA and normal chest radiographs. Spirometry was performed on 100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 84 control subjects matched for age, sex, and smoking habits. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis had significantly lower values for FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC, and MMEFR when compared with the controls: 39 patients had abnormal spirometry, and at least 32 showed airways obstruction. The prevalence of airflow obstruction is remarkably high, and we suggest that airway disease may be the commonest form of lung involvement in rheumatoid arthritis.
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