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.
Biologics Reduce Heart Attack Risk
Research shows that treatment with TNF inhibitors helps control RA and reduces the risk of heart attack in people with the disease. British researchers studied heart attack risk patients – 11,200 receiving TNF drugs and 3,058 taking synthetic DMARDs only – over 3–5 years. They found the risk of heart attacks was almost 40% lower in those taking TNF inhibitors. The researchers believe TNF drugs reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis and may inhibit the accumulation and progression of plaque leading to fewer heart attacks.
Exercise Controls Inflammation
It’s well known that exercise promotes fitness and helps control weight. Recent research shows an unexpected potential benefit: controlling inflammation. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, examined blood samples taken from 47 volunteers immediately before and after a treadmill session that was individually tailored to their fitness levels. The researchers found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a decrease in blood markers of inflammation. Their research offers new clues into the inflammatory process and gives people with RA and other inflammatory diseases yet another good reason to exercise.