Obese women and men who smoke experience worse arthritis outcomes

Thursday 21st June 2018
Obese women and men who smoke are less likely to respond quickly to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research.
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Lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking have a major role to play in determining whether people with rheumatoid arthritis respond swiftly to treatment.

This is according to a new study led by McGill University in Canada and presented at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR), which has revealed that obesity in women and current smoking habits in men are the strongest predictors of failing to achieve remission in early rheumatoid arthritis within a year.

A total of 1,628 adults with early cases of rheumatoid arthritis were enrolled in this study, which analysed sociodemographic and disease characteristics, as well as patient-reported outcomes over 12 months, to identify predictors of failing to achieve remission.

It was shown that 46 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men did not achieve remission in the first year despite receiving treatment in line with current medical advice, with obesity more than doubling the likelihood of not achieving remission in women. In men, current smokers were 3.5 times more likely to fail to achieve remission within the first year.

Other predictors in women included minority status, lower education, and higher tender joint counts and fatigue scores, while for men the most important factors were older age and higher pain. Not using the drug methotrexate was also revealed to significantly increase the likelihood of not achieving remission in women by 28 per cent and men by 45 per cent.

Professor Johannes Bijlsma, president of EULAR, said: "These results highlight the need to support physicians and empower patients to take advantage of the impact lifestyle changes can have on disease progression.

"We consider it essential that recommendations reach all audiences - from rheumatologists, patients and patient organisations to healthcare professionals - in order to support all in understanding how to best manage the disease."

Written by Mathew Horton

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