Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 25 years.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

The health advantages of marriage

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

People who are married tend to be in better overall health than people who are not, but the reasons for this are not clear. Researchers believe there are a number of possible factors that influence this association, including cortisol levels, mental health, and better health habits.

Anti-inflammatory medications and the risk for cardiovascular disease: A new study, a new perspective

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The results of a large study of the anti-inflammatory medication celecoxib in people with arthritis and increased risk for cardiovascular disease are changing previously held beliefs regarding the drug raising the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Water, water everywhere

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

It may be tempting to carry a water bottle everywhere you go so you can “stay hydrated.” Doctors may advise those taking certain medications or with certain health conditions, to drink more, but most people can get all the water their bodies need from the food they eat and by drinking water when thirsty.

The latest on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Despite a lack of conclusive evidence, millions of Americans take glucosamine, chondroitin, or both for joint protection or relief from arthritis pain. While these supplements are considered safe, they are not regulated the way prescription drugs are and can cause side effects.

Just what is pneumonia, anyway?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The term “pneumonia” encompasses a number of illnesses and infections. Some are more serious than others, and some are more easily treated than others. Since pneumonia has dominated the news cycle for the past few weeks, we’ve put together some definitions to demystify this catchall term for a range of lung conditions.

Staying active at “that time of the month”

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The belief that women should avoid exercise or athletics during their menstrual periods, because it can affect performance or increase the risk of injury, is not necessarily true. Good training may reduce the risks of injury and enhance performance much more than trying to time exercise around one’s periods.

What exactly is cupping?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The ancient practice of cupping received attention during the summer’s Olympic games. This application of suction to the skin is supposed to promote healing of sore muscles, but precisely how it helps remains unclear. Most experts agree that cupping is safe. As long as those treated don’t mind the circular discolorations, side effects tend to be limited to the pinch experienced during skin suction.

The truth behind standing desks

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Because sitting for long periods is linked to a greater risk of premature death, the popularity of standing desks is growing, but a study of calories burned while doing various activities suggests the caloric benefit of using a standing desk is not as significant as previous studies suggested.

The most important health problems (and why they matter)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Data from the CDC and elsewhere examining death rates and causes shows that the most common causes of death are not necessarily the ones of greatest concern to Americans. Understanding the causes of death is important, not only because of what they may say about how we live, but also to find ways to increase longevity.

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, can cause pain and restricted movement in the joints. Joint replacement surgery (typically for knees and hips) can restore mobility and reduce pain. However, these procedures involve risk, recovery and rehabilitation time, and the joint may still not feel completely normal. However, for some, surgery may improve quality of life and be better than the alternatives.