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

DMARDs Reduce Dementia Risk

Taking a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) for RA may do more than control your RA – it may also reduce your risk of developing dementia, a study shows. British researchers analyzed outcomes from 11,772 RA patients were who were part of a large primary care database.

Those who had used DMARDs – just over 70% of the patients – had significantly less risk of developing dementia compared to non-users, the researchers found. Although they can’t explain the connection, they believe DMARDs’ ability to control inflammation may play a role.

Source: Rheumatology 2017, Annual Meeting of the British Society of Rheumatology

Early Treatment Reduces Disability

A new study confirms the importance of early, aggressive treatment for RA. Using a British arthritis database, which recruited patients between 1990 and 1994 and followed them over 20 years, researchers classified 602 patients into three groups: those receiving treatment within 6 months of symptom onset, those receiving later treatment and those whose symptoms were not deemed serious enough to require treatment.

They found the patients who received early treatment had disability rates comparable to those who had not required treatment, while disability was greatest in those who had received later treatment.

Source: Arthritis & Rheumatology, July 2017

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