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Posted by on Mar 16, 2019 in Rheumatoid Arthritis | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated the mortality rates in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They found that mortality rates were similar to the general population in these patients.

Some background

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term condition. It causes painful inflammation in the joints. To treat RA, patients take medication to reduce inflammation. They are called anti-rheumatic disease-modifying drugs or DMARDs. The aim of RA treatment is to achieve low disease activity (LDA) or remission (no symptoms). This approach is called ‘treatment to target’ (TTT). 

Mortality (death) risk is thought to be higher in patients with RA than the general population. Early intervention in RA may improve this risk. It is unclear if TTT improves mortality risk in RA. 

Methods & findings

This study included 155 patients with early RA. These patients were enrolled in a main study that compared DMARD treatment. There was a 23-year follow-up in this study. The authors analyzed mortality rates in the main study. These rates were compared to the general population (GP) of the Netherlands. Data on medication, disease activity, and functional disability were also analyzed. 

Mortality rates were similar in RA patients and GP. Certain factors were associated with greater mortality risk. These included high functional disability score and shorter disease duration. The level of joint damage after 28 weeks was also linked to higher mortality risk. Certain cell surface markers were also linked to mortality. These included the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that mortality rates were similar to the general population in patients with RA treated early in the disease.

The fine print

The number of patients in this study was relatively small. Larger studies are needed to confirm the results. Also, the cause of death was not available for analysis. 

What’s next?

If you have any concerns regarding RA treatment, please consult with your physician. 

Published By :

Annals of the rheumatic diseases

Date :

Feb 27, 2019

Original Title :

Normal mortality of the COBRA early rheumatoid arthritis trial cohort after 23 years of follow-up.

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