rheumatoid arthritis biologic tapering

Research Identifies Which RA Patients May Successfully Reduce Their Biologics

A new study presented recently at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology identifies four factors that may predict which rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients might successfully taper the dose of their biologic medication.

Although biologics are highly effective in controlling RA and its symptoms, patients in some cases prefer not to use them. Past studies have shown that it is possible to taper and even stop the medication in certain patients who are in remission once they have been successfully treated with one of these drugs.

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rheumatoid arthritis and type-2 diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes Risk May Be Higher With RA

People who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are known to be more likely to develop other serious health problems, including heart disease, lung disease and some types of cancer. Now a recent study in the online journal PLOS One appears to indicate they also have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Lead study author Piero Ruscitti, MD, of the University of L’Aquila in Italy, writes that he and his colleagues undertook the study to show that type 2 diabetes is common but often overlooked in RA patients.

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ra vaccines

RA & Vaccinations

Keeping up with your vaccinations is always a smart move, but getting immunized is especially important when you have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both RA and the medicines you take to treat it can increase your risk for infections.

When Joan Wilkinson’s RA flared, her rheumatologist insisted that she and her husband get pneumonia and shingles vaccines to protect her from these common infections. “He said, ‘When you leave here today, go straight to the pharmacist,’” she recalls.

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rheumatoid-arthritis-shingles-risk

Rheumatoid Arthritis Raises Shingles Risk

People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have roughly twice the risk of healthy older adults of developing shingles, a virus related to chickenpox that causes pain and a blistering rash.

Most adults have been exposed to varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. This virus is never completely cleared from our bodies, but lies quietly in spinal nerve cells. If it’s reactivated it causes shingles, explains rheumatologist Jeffrey Curtis, MD, professor medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The reactivated virus is called herpes zoster or shingles.

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rheumatoid arthritis treatment to prevent joint deformities

Aggressive RA Treatment May Prevent Joint Deformities

Thanks to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments, joint deformities in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are becoming less frequent and severe.

What Causes Joint Deformities in RA?

In a joint affected by RA, inflammatory cells of the immune system gather in the lining of the joint (called synovium), forming a fibrous layer of abnormal tissue (called pannus). The pannus releases substances that quicken bone erosion, cartilage destruction and damage to the surrounding ligaments. The involved joints lose their shape and alignment, resulting in deformities. Severe deformities lead to loss of joint function and the need for joint replacement surgery.

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fish rheumatoid arthritis

Eating Fish May Relieve RA

Eating fish at least twice a week may help reduce inflammation and joint pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a new analysis published recently in Arthritis Care & Research.

Fish oil supplements have long been known to improve pain as well as increase remission rates in RA patients taking triple therapy. This is among the first studies to show that fish itself – with lower concentrations than supplements of the active ingredients, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – may be just as good.

But, the study authors say more studies are needed, noting, “…we cannot draw firm conclusions about the impact of frequent fish consumption on RA activity.”

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fighting fatigue rheumatoid arthritis

Fighting the Fatigue of RA

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) don’t stop at joint pain and swelling. Most people with RA also experience mental and physical exhaustion, a symptom known as fatigue. Studies show that up to 80% of people with RA have at least some sense of feeling run down, and more than 50% have high levels of fatigue.

Terence Starz, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the feeling can be described as overwhelming or different from just being tired because it is extreme and seems to come from nowhere. In fact, fatigue may have a greater impact on daily life than pain.

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Fibromyalgia and RA

RA With a Side of Fibromyalgia

For years, fibromyalgia was a mystery illness. No one knew what caused it, how to diagnose it or how best to treat it. Some people, including doctors, even questioned its existence. In the last few years, however, researchers have cleared up some of the mystery. Although much about fibromyalgia still isn’t understood completely, two things are clear: It’s very real, and it affects a disproportionate number of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
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Arthritis Increases Risk of Heart Attack

Risk of Heart Attack Rises After RA Diagnosis

Generally, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, which can affect other organs and tissues besides the joints. In fact, people with RA have up to twice the risk of heart disease and development of heart failure (especially if they test positive for rheumatoid factor, or RF) than the general population, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study published in the American Heart Journal.
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