Arthritis Watch

Published Online: Sunday, February 1, 2009

Knee OA Worse for Obese Patients

Individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who are obese are more likely to develop advanced, end-stage disease, compared with healthy weight individuals, reported researchers at the recent American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting.

Using a computer model of knee OA progression based on published national data, the researchers projected the occurrence and progression of knee OA among several cohort individuals stratified by the presence at age 60 of obesity, knee pain, and radiographic OA.

The findings indicated that 70% of obese adults with mild knee OA at age 60, who survive 20 years, will develop advanced, end-stage disease by age 80. For nonobese adults with mild knee OA, 43% will have end-stage disease after 20 years.

Vitamin E Does Not Prevent RA

Data from the Women's Health Study found that taking vitamin E supplements does not lower a woman's risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Some earlier observational studies indicated that diets high in antioxidants are linked with lower RA odds, noted the researchers in the November 15, 2008, issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

For the current study 39,144 women at least 45 years old were randomly given vitamin E at a dose of 600 international units every other day or placebo. During the 10-year follow-up, 50 women in the vitamin E group developed RA, compared with 56 in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that vitamin E supplements do not significantly affect the rate of RA.

Arthritis Pain Occurs in 1 in 10 Adults

A new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed that approximately 21 million Americans (9.5% of adults 18 and older) either visited or called a physician for a prescription to reduce arthritis pain in 2005.

AHRQ's data showed that in 2005:

  • Whereas 9.5 million adults sought treatment, women pursued it more often than men (12% vs 7%).
  • More whites sought treatment for arthritis (10.5%), followed by blacks (just under 10%), compared with Hispanics (6%) and Asians (4%).
  • About $32 billion was spent for arthritis treatments, which included doctor visits (36%), hospital care (31%), prescription drugs (21%), home health care (12%) and emergency department visits (<1%).

Yoga Eases RA Symptoms

A new study found that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at greater risk of gum disease (periodontal disease). For the study, the researchers looked for periodontal disease in 153 patients, aged 45 to 84, who had RA for an average of 11 years. Of the patients, 82% reported periodontal symptoms, including a history of gum disease, gum recession, and gum bleeding.

After additional research, the investigators found that gum disease correlated significantly with a patient's RA disease activity score and with rheumatoid nodules. The researchers concluded that periodontal disease is independently linked with RA disease activity.

Antimalarial Drug May Thwart Diabetes in Arthritis Patients

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who use hydroxychloroquine for treatment may cut their risk of developing diabetes in half.

"People with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk for diabetes, due to sedentary lifestyle, chronic inflammation, and the use of steroid medications that can cause weight gain," said lead researcher Androniki Bili, MD, prior to her presentation recently at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting.

The study involved an analysis of the medical records of 1824 patients with RA without diabetes at the outset; 525 had used hydroxychloroquine, and 1299 had never used the drug. The researchers found that, during an average of 3 years, the rate of newly diagnosed diabetes among hydroxychloroquine users was about half the rate noted in the nonusers (17.2 vs 33.8 new cases of diabetes per 1000 people per year).

Further analysis adjusted for a variety of factors that might influence the results indicated that having ever used hydroxychloroquine was linked with a 53% reduction in the development of new diabetes cases.

"We should revisit hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, because in addition to its disease-modifying properties, it might prevent the development of diabetes in this high-risk group," stated Dr. Bili.

F A S T   F A C T: Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, affecting >1.3 million Americans.

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