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Rheumatoid Factor (RF)

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The bodys immune system produces RF, which can sometimes attack healthy tissues. High levels blood levels of RF often indicate an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogrens syndrome. Eighty percent of adults who test positive for RF in their blood are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

The RF test assesses the presence and amount of RF in the blood. However, the test is tricky because healthy people, usually those with family members who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, sometimes have positive results. Further, some people with an autoimmune disease test normally for RF levels. Chronic infections and other diseases, such as cancer, cirrhosis, sarcoidosis, mixed connective tissue disease, cryoglobulinemia, scleroderma and lupus can also influence levels of RF in the blood.

For this reason, the RF test is normally done in conjunction with additional tests, such as the antinuclear antibody test and a complete blood count. Sometimes measuring anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, C-reactive proteins and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate). Your doctor can use these results to help determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis and help determine the appropriate treatment for your situation.