Although rheumatoid arthritis is largely manageable if steps are taken to counter inflammation, the condition can prove life-threatening if left untreated.

Inflammation of the blood vessels, known as rheumatoid vasculitis, is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis.

As the NHS explains, the complication is characterised by the thickening, weakening, narrowing and scarring of blood vessel walls.

"In serious cases, it can affect blood flow to your body's organs and tissues and can be life threatening," warns the health body.

Life-threatening signs include numbness, tingling or chest pain

© Getty Images Life-threatening signs include numbness, tingling or chest pain

What are the serious symptoms to look for?

The symptoms will depend upon the part of the body affected.

According to Vasculitis UK, skin rashes and ulcers are a common problem.

"Involvement of the nerves usually causes numbness or tingling and 'pins and needles' symptoms, muscle weakness may also develop," explains the health body.

"Inflammation may develop around the outside of the heart (pericarditis) which can cause chest pain."

However, "with early treatment, inflammation in other parts of the body from rheumatoid arthritis is less likely", notes the NHS.

a plate of food with broccoli: Mediterranean diet can help arthritis by curbing inflammation

© Getty Images Mediterranean diet can help arthritis by curbing inflammation

How to keep inflammation in check

Making healthy lifestyle changes can keep rheumatoid arthritis under control.

Exercise may seem counterintuitive if you're suffering from joint pain, but it is one of the most effective interventions you can make.

The NHS explains: "Exercising regularly can help relieve stress, help keep your joints mobile, and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints."

As the NHS notes, exercise can also help you lose weight if you're overweight, which can put extra strain on your joints.

Diet also alleviates arthritis inflammation.

According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans but low processed foods and saturated fat, is not only great for overall health, but can also help manage disease activity.

"If this advice sounds familiar, it's because these are the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which is frequently touted for its anti-aging and disease-fighting powers," notes the AF.

Studies confirm that eating foods commonly part of the Mediterranean diet can help arthritis by curbing inflammation.

Additional studies show that the dietary approach can lead to weight loss, which can lessen joint pain.

The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions.

But in general, it's high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.