• Sarah Schafer, MD

Misleading NYT Article

Updated: May 10

Earlier this month, I posted an online comment regarding this New York Times Article: He Thought He Just Had the Flu at First. Then His Heart Could Barely Pump. The story is about a man with severe pericarditis. He was also diagnosed with Sjogren's during the medical evaluation.

That is the good news. Unfortunately, the author, Dr. Lisa Sanders, dismissed Sjogren’s as an unimportant finding. Yet Sjogren's was the likely cause of his condition. She seems unaware that pericarditis is one of the many direct complications that can occur in Sjogren’s. What concerns me most, however, her dismissive comment: “Most with Sjogren’s don’t need treatment for their disease, only for the annoying symptoms of dryness and discomfort it causes.”

Statements like this perpetuate the incorrect, outdated view of Sjogren’s as a nuisance dryness disease. Sjogren’s is common, serious, and always systemic! While pericarditis is not a common complication, many systemic features of Sjogren’s are. Raynaud’s, neuropathies, dysautonomias, lung disease, and debilitating fatigue are just a few examples.

We have a long way to go. Our clinicians need better education. People writing articles should do their homework!