Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.
Factors Predict Methotrexate Response
Finding the best RA treatment for an individual is typically a process of trial and error; however, a new study shows certain clinical and psychological factors may predict who will respond well to methotrexate. The study, which examined the responses of 1,050 patients starting methotrexate, found negative rheumatoid factor, higher tender joint counts and, high anxiety scores – all were associated with a poorer response to the drug six months later.
Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy, July 13, 2018
Cholesterol Screenings Lacking
New research suggests people with RA are not screened adequately for a common cardiovascular risk factor, high cholesterol. Researchers who followed 5,587 people with RA and 5,613 controls found that both groups received just over half (56.6 and 59.5 percent respectively) of recommended cholesterol screenings. Given the increased risk for cardiovascular disease in RA, the authors say it is important to communicate with family physicians (who order the majority of cholesterol tests) that risk and the need for more vigilant screening.
Source: Rheumatology, June 27, 2018
Corticosteroids May Not Damage Bone in Early RA
For patients with early, active RA, corticosteroids may not adversely affect bone mineral density (BMD), as has been commonly feared. Researchers identified 797 people with early RA from seven studies in which patients took either prednisone or prednisolone and which measured BMD at baseline and at least once during follow-up. Analyzing data, they found no difference in BMD change between patients receiving placebo vs those treated with corticosteroids, suggesting the drugs’ suppression of inflammation may counterbalance their adverse effects on bone remodeling.
Source: Bone, September 2018
Sexual Dysfunction Increased in RA
Increasingly research is revealing a link between RA and other problems. Sexual dysfunction is now among them. Researchers who analyzed data from seven studies comprising almost 45,000 people — 6,642 of whom had RA — found sexual dysfunction was increased by 73 percent in women with RA. For men the risk was almost doubled (99 percent). The researchers say both doctors and patients should be aware of the risk and the need for assessment and possibly treatment in clinical practice.
Source: Journal of Rheumatology, June 2018 (online)