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    7 Steps to Take Care of Yourself

    You can do a lot for your health:

    1. Take your meds. Remember: RA treatment -- with drugs that slow or stop the disease -- helps your joints.
    2. See your rheumatologist. Medical problems are more likely if your disease is severe or not treated. With regular checkups and screening, your RA doctor can catch problems before they become serious.
    3. Watch for infections. See your doctor at the first sign. If you delay, your symptoms may be much harder to treat.
    4. Protect your heart. Like anyone at risk for heart disease, you should stick to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Get advice from your doctor. But a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not smoking are all important.
    5. Get your vaccines. They are especially important because you have a higher risk of infection. Ask your doctor about vaccines for flu, pneumonia, pertussis, and shingles.
    6. See other specialists. To prevent eye problems, see an eye doctor once a year. You may need bone density tests and screening tests by a skin or heart doctor. If you think you might be depressed, see a mental health counselor or therapist. Your doctor can give you a referral.
    7. Stay upbeat. Focus on what you can do. You and your doctor can handle whatever comes up.

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