Arthritis Watch

Pharmacy Times
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Men Who Drink More Coffee Have Lower Risk of GoutA recent study shows that men who are at risk for gout can lower that risk by consuming more coffee. Researchers conducted a study of 45,869 men older than 40 with no previous history of gout. Over 12 years of follow-up, the researchers evaluated the relationship between the patients' coffee intake and their incidence of gout.

They found that the risk for developing gout decreased with a correlating increase in coffee drinking. Men who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower chance of developing the disease than those who drank no coffee; those who drank 6 or more cups per day had a 59% lower chance, independent of all other gout risk factors. The drinking of tea and other caffeinated beverages was found to have no effect on gout risk.

The researchers speculate that the antioxidant phenol chlorogenic acid found in coffee may contribute to the drink's gout-preventing abilities. The findings were published in the June issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Rheumatoid Illnesses, Smoking Can Harm AortaAmerican and Norwegian researchers report that inflammatory rheumatic diseases and smoking are both associated with inflammation of the aorta. Aortic inflammation can spur atherosclerosis and the formation of aneurysms, as well as increasing the risk for heart attack and death. The researchers analyzed samples of aortic tissue from 66 coronary artery bypass patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease and a control group of 51 bypass patients without the disease.

The researchers found that patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases were more likely to have inflammation-related cells in their aortic tissue than those patients without the diseases. Patients who smoked were also more likely to have these cells. The findings indicate the need for further research into an inflammatory process that may increase the risk of dying from a heart attack or aneurysm, according to the researchers. The study was published in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

They Can Feel It in Their Bones: Weather May Affect Arthritis PainWhen Grandma says that "rain is coming" because her bones ache, it might be wise to listen to her. A new study suggests that patients with knee arthritis experience pain flareups that correlate with changes in temperature and barometric pressure. In the past, scientific evidence for this phenomenon has been rare because of the preconceived notion many people have as to the relationship between joint pain and weather changes. Researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Mass, used data from an earlier study that investigated the use of glucosamine for patients with knee arthritis.

The study involved 200 adults who reported on their levels of pain at different times over 3 months. The researchers took those data and compared them with meteorologic information obtained from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration on the same days in each patient's local area. In general, they found that patients' pain did tend to worsen when the temperature dropped or when the barometric pressure increased. The idea of arthritis patients experiencing less pain in warmer and sunnier climates may have some merit as well. The findings were published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

We Can Work It Out: Counseling Improves Patients, QOLGiving patients with arthritis the tools they need to cope with pain can help them feel and function better, improving their overall quality of life (QOL), according to the authors of a new analysis of research on counseling for arthritis patients. The counseling should be ongoing, however, and the coping skills need to be practiced to develop them fully. Patients with arthritis can develop disabilities that can lead to psychological issues. Scientists at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, have developed programs to help these patients cope with the pain using relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and strategies such as activity-rest cycling.

The researchers analyzed the results of 27 trials of psychological interventions for arthritis, which included 3409 patients. They found that patients who had the skills training reported a modest reduction in pain, an improved ability to cope with pain, a reduction in anxiety and depression, less psychological and physical disability, and less joint swelling. An effective program may include 12 to 14 sessions. Teaching hospitals and Veterans Administration hospitals typically offer such programs, which may be covered by insurance with a physician's referral. The results were published in the May 2007 issue of Health Psychology.

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