Arthritis Watch

Pharmacy TimesJune 2011 Women's Health
Volume 77
Issue 6

Quality of Life Poor in Adults with Arthritis

The health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for US adults with arthritis is much worse than for those without this condition, according to research published in the June 2011 issue of Arthritis Care & Research. The study found that both physical and mental health are affected by arthritis, which presents a significant health and economic burden as the number of those diagnosed continues to increase.

Approximately 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which estimates that the number could climb to 67 million by 2030. It is the most common cause of disability in the country, limiting activity for 19 million individuals and leading to decreased employment for nearly 8 million Americans.

In the study, Sylvia Furner, MPH, PhD, of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues at the CDC analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to compare HRQOL in US adults with and without arthritis. Of the more than 1 million respondents included in the analysis, 27% of those with arthritis reported fair or poor health compared with 12% of those without arthritis. The mean number of physically unhealthy days, mentally unhealthy days, total unhealthy days, and activity-limited days was greater for individuals with arthritis than for those without.

“Our analysis showed that the values for all 5 measures of HRQOL were 2 to 3 times worse in those with arthritis compared to those without,” said Dr. Furner.

The study also found that individuals who were physically active had significantly better HRQOL. “Given the projected high prevalence of arthritis in the US, interventions should address both physical health and mental health,” concluded Dr. Furner.

Lupus, RA May Increase Risk for Atrial Fibrillation

New research suggests that 2 common inflammatory diseases may be linked to atrial fibrillation (AF). According to data presented at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have a 60% increased risk for developing AF, an arrhythmia that is associated with stroke.

The link may stem from the fact that RA and SLE cause inflammation, which is suspected to play a role in heart disease, according to Abhishek Deshmukh, MD, a cardiology fellow at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center in Little Rock and one of the study’s authors.

For the study, researchers examined data from 416,786 patients 65 years and older who were discharged from 1200 US hospitals after receiving treatment for AF. In the initial analysis, 2.73% of patients with RA or lupus were found to have AF, compared with 1.7% for those unaffected by either condition. After adjusting for confounding factors, researchers found that the frequency of the heart arrhythmia was 1.6 times higher in patients diagnosed with one of the autoimmune conditions.

Texting, Gaming Cause Hand in Pain Children

Frequent text messaging and prolonged use of gaming devices such as Xbox and Game Boy can cause wrist and finger pain in children that may lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis later in life, according to data presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Congress 2011.

“Our study shows the negative impact of playing computer games and using mobile phones on the joints of children as young as 9 years old,” said lead investigator Yusuf Yazici, MD, assistant professor at the Hospital for Joint Diseases and Medicine. “Children who used these devices for prolonged times tended to have more pain regardless of which device they used.”

The study was based on responses to questionnaires administered to 257 children aged 9 to 15 years at 2 schools in St. Louis, Missouri. The authors found that hand pain was more common in girls than boys, and use of Xbox and Game Boy caused more pain than the use of cell phones. Survey results also showed that the more hours children spent on any electronic device, the more severe the pain.

Dr. Yazici cautioned that parents should set limits on the number of hours children play with gaming devices and send text messages.

“These electronic devices were not designed for children, yet the children in our study averaged more than 2 hours of play per day. We don’t know if pain will lead to arthritis, but it bears watching,” he said.

Fast Fact: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that arthritis affects 35.6% of obese Americans.

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