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Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey battled rheumatoid arthritis

On January 18, Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey died in New York at the age of 67 due to a combination of problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. Frey’s manager, Irving Azoff, said that Frey secretly battled rheumatoid arthritis for more than 15 years before he died.

In the outpouring of mourning for Glenn Frey on Twitter, Cheryl Koehn, Founder and President of Arthritis Consumer Experts and a rheumatoid arthritis patient of 25 years, tweeted, “I’m tired of hearing “no one dies of arthritis”. Time for main stream media to recognize our losses. RIP Glenn.”

The band is famous for tracks such as Take It Easy and Hotel California. Despite his secret battle with RA, Frey participated in the Arthritis Foundation’s 2013 Walk to Cure Arthritis Fundraiser. Below is a picture from the Arthritis Foundation’s website of Frey and rheumatologist Dr. Rinaldi from the 2013 event.

Glen Frey with rheumatologist Dr. Rinaldi“Rheumatoid arthritis has taken the life of an incredibly talented musician, whose amazing music will always be part of our lives.” – The Arthritis Foundation

According to Azoff, Frey’s acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia were caused by medications Frey was taking for his RA. In an interview with Mirror, Azoff added: “The colitis and pneumonia were side effects from all the meds. He died from complications of ulcer and colitis after being treated with drugs for his rheumatoid arthritis which he had for over 15 years.”

Frey’s RA affected his day-to-day routine. His knees would hurt one day, then his hands the next day. The disease moved from joint to joint. Due to Frey’s health issues, the band had to postpone a scheduled appearance at the Kennedy Centre Honors last month.

In an interview with Yahoo Health, Eric Matteson, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, said: “The life expectancy of people who have rheumatoid arthritis that is very severe can be diminished, especially if there are complications of the disease outside the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis have a twofold risk of infection.”

Marc Leavey, MD, an internist at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Centre, added: “The bodily inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis is also a lot for a person to handle. Together, they can produce more illness than each individually. With that as a background, a superimposed bacterial pneumonia, itself a serious illness, may be enough to tip the balance toward the tragic.”

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis, click here.