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
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.
Continue reading Type 2 Diabetes Risk May Be Higher With RA
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.
Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis Raises Shingles Risk
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).
Continue reading RA With a Side of Fibromyalgia
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.
Continue reading Risk of Heart Attack Rises After RA Diagnosis
Researchers set out to answer a pressing question: Is it safe for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who have had cancer in the past to use a biologic drug rather than a traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), like methotrexate, to control their disease? Their answer, detailed in a study recently published online in the journal Rheumatology, is reassuring. They found that patients with a previous malignancy who later took certain biologics did not appear to have an increased risk of cancer after an average of five years, compared to those who took a traditional DMARD.
Continue reading Biologics Appear Safe for Some Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Who’ve Had Cancer
People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who are obese are less likely to achieve disease remission than their non-obese counterparts, according to a meta-analysis published in May in Arthritis Care and Research. The review also found that obesity was associated with higher levels of disease activity and pain, suggesting excess weight may negatively affect overall outcomes in RA. This meta-analysis supports earlier research, including a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
Continue reading New Research: Obesity May Reduce the Chance of RA Remission by as Much as Half
If you have a few – or a lot – of pounds to lose, you know that carrying excess weight around can stress your painful or fragile joints. But research shows that the mechanical effects of weight are just part of the problem.
Fat itself releases chemicals including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) that promote inflammation. These chemicals may not only increase the risk of developing some forms of arthritis, but they may also increase arthritis severity or make it harder to control.
In fact a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology found that for people with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), being overweight or obese can reduce the chance of achieving sustained remission.
Continue reading Being Overweight Can Hurt Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission
Have a cough that won’t quit? Been short of breath lately? It could be a nasty cold or flu virus, or the problem could be related to your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA attacks the joints, but it doesn’t always stop there. It can affect other organs, including the lungs. In fact, some 20 to 30 percent of RA patients will eventually develop RA-related lung disease. Doctors may classify a lung problem as restrictive lung disease (such as interstitial lung disease) or obstructive lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma). Both result in shortness of breath.
Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lung Problems
A link between stress and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is commonly acknowledged. However, scientists continue to explore the connection between the nervous and immune systems and the effect on RA onset and progression. People with RA commonly report experiencing physical or emotional stress when first diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder like RA. However in a 2010 editorial in Arthritis Research & Therapy, Daniel Clauw, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan (who has expertise in rheumatology and pain), commented on a review of 16 studies on the stress-arthritis link. In his editorial, Dr. Clauw highlighted the verified link in animal models and the difficulty in proving a similar linear relationship in humans.
Continue reading Can Managing Stress Keep RA Symptoms in Check?