vitamin d deficiency

RA Research Briefs: Vitamin D, Shingles, Jobs

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries. 

Vitamin D Deficiency Associ­ated with Neuropathic Pain

People with RA who suffer from neuro­pathic pain – or, understandably, are try­ing to avoid it – may do well to have their vitamin D levels checked. A study examined neuropathic pain indicators as well as blood samples of 93 patients with RA. The researchers found the prevalence of neuro­pathic pain was almost six times higher in patients with serum vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) than in patients with vitamin D levels ≥ 30 ng/mL. Anything below 20 ng/mL is considered a deficiency.

SOURCE: International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, August 31, 2017

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rheumatoid arthritis

Interval Training: A HIIT for RA?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) tops the American College of Sports Medicine’s list of most popular workouts. According to a small study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, it might be just the ticket for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), too.

HIIT is an aerobic, heart-pumping form of exercise where short bursts of maximum effort, usually lasting from 20 to 60 seconds, alternate with less intense recovery periods. Studies suggest that HIIT is as effective at burning calories and improving heart and lung health as steady-state exercises like running or biking. One 2018 meta-analysis found that HIIT was significantly better than moderately intense steady exercise for patients with heart disease.

Only a few small studies have looked at HIIT for people who have RA.  On the whole, they showed that participants lost weight, gained muscle and improved their joint health without any increase in inflammation or pain. But researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, wanted to learn more, including whether HIIT could improve disease activity and immune function.

Continue reading Interval Training: A HIIT for RA?

meditation ra psa

Meditation for RA and PsA

Meditation is good for your soul. Research shows it can also help ease pain caused by all types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and osteoarthritis (OA).

For centuries, meditation has been used to help focus the mind and soothe the spirit. But scientific evidence suggests this ancient practice – particularly a modern form known as mindfulness meditation or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – offers a variety of health benefits, including relief for chronic joint pain and skin disorders like psoriasis.

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rheumatoid arthritis treatment fda approved

FDA Approves a New Oral Drug for Moderate to Severe RA

People with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who haven’t responded well to one or more tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor medications now have a new option. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved baricitinib (Olumiant), a pill that is taken once a day.

Baricitinib is a targeted disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) that blocks Janus kinase (JAK), a group of enzymes that enable inflammatory signals to be activated inside a cell. It’s the second in this class of drug to hit the market for the treatment of RA; tofacitinib (Xeljanz) was the first, approved in 2012.

“It’s not a biologic but a ‘small molecule,’ or oral, targeted agent, that is highly effective in treating the signs and symptoms of RA,” explains Paul Howard, MD, a rheumatologist in Scottsdale, AZ. It is expected to be significantly cheaper than biologic medications.  Continue reading FDA Approves a New Oral Drug for Moderate to Severe RA

eating fish rheumatoid arthritis

RA Research Briefs: Tofacitinib, Fish, Remission

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.

Tofacitinib Plus Methotrexate May Work As Well As Biologic

If methotrexate (MTX) alone fails to control RA, adding the oral Janus kinase (JAX) inhibitor tofacitinib (Xeljanz) may be as effective as the standard practice of adding a biologic. The JAX inhibitor belongs to the third category of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) called targeted DMARDs. In a study of 1,146 patients with rheumatoid arthritis that had not adequately responded to MTX alone, approximately a third were switched to tofacitinib, while the others received either tofacitinib or the biologic adalimumab (Humira) along with methotrexate. At 6 months, only 38% of the patients receiving tofacitinib mono­therapy achieved ACR50 – 50 percent improvement – while 46% of patients that received tofacitinib and MTX achieved that response. Forty-four percent of patients who combined adalimubab with MTX achieved the similar improved response of the tofacitnib and MTX group.

SOURCE: The Lancet, July 2017  Continue reading RA Research Briefs: Tofacitinib, Fish, Remission

rheumatoid arthritis pregnancy

Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares: The Ups and Downs of Pregnancy

For some women with RA, pregnancy brings on an unexpected bonus: improved symptoms. Approximately 70% of women with RA experience improved symptoms in the second trimester that can last through the first 6 weeks after delivery, says J. Bruce Smith, MD, assistant compliance officer for research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and a rheumatologist whose research has focused largely on autoimmune disease and pregnancy.

Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares: The Ups and Downs of Pregnancy

rheumatoid arthritis research briefs remission exercise

RA Research Briefs: Remission, Biologics, Exercise

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.

Smoking, Obesity Make RA Harder to Control

Remission in RA patients can be harder to achieve in those who are overweight or smoke, according to a recent study. American and Canadian researchers who collected data on more than 1,100 patients receiving standard treatment for RA found that sex (being female), excess weight and smoking were not significantly associated with symptom severity early on. However, all three factors influenced how much symptoms improved over time. The most dramatic differences in symptoms were seen in patients who were overweight or obese and smoked, the study found.

Source: ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, November 2016

Continue reading RA Research Briefs: Remission, Biologics, Exercise

rheumatoid arthritis green tea

RA Research Briefs: Remission, Surgery, Green Tea

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.

Obesity Reduces Odds of RA Remission

Research suggests weight may be a factor in whether people with RA will achieve disease remission. A review of studies screened a total 3,368 patient records. Canadian researchers found obese patients with RA were less likely to achieve remission or sustain remission compared to healthy-weight patients. Obesity, they reported, negatively impacts disease activity and patient-reported outcomes during therapy. Therefore, they say, interventions to reduce BMI should be investigated for the ability to improve disease outcomes.

Source: Arthritis Care & Research, January 2017

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rheumatoid arthritis menopause

Daily Tasks Get Harder for Women with RA After Menopause

Women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) report a decline in physical function after menopause, possibly due to shifting hormone levels, according to a recent study in the journal Rheumatology.  

The researchers, led by Elizabeth Mollard, PhD, an assistant professor and advanced nurse practitioner at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Lincoln, undertook the study because there are known associations between RA and female hormones, but the connections are poorly understood. For example, RA often goes into remission during pregnancy but flares after delivery. First-time symptoms of RA appear more frequently after pregnancy, too. And for reasons that may or may not be hormone-related, women get RA at three times the rate that men do and they tend to have more pain and disability than their male counterparts.  

Continue reading Daily Tasks Get Harder for Women with RA After Menopause

rheumatoid arthritis lab tests

Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Briefs: RA Tests, Dementia, Disability

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.

Obesity May Affect RA Tests

Research has shown that obesity can increase the risk of RA or worsen symptoms. A new study of more than 2,000 people with RA suggests it could also affect the results of tests used to measure RA inflammation.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a link between body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) and elevated results of two common tests – SED rate and C-reactive protein (CRP) – used in diagnosing RA and gauging its activity. Researchers say this association is related to fat mass and not RA disease activity. Doctors should consider a patient’s BMI when interpreting lab results.

Source: Arthritis Care & Research, published online April, 2017

Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Briefs: RA Tests, Dementia, Disability