Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes pain and disability. Dr Elena Nikiphorou considers the links between obesity and rheumatoid arthritis adverse outcomes.
Healthier lifestyles for people with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity can potentially reduce inflammation and therefore, disease flares and disability.
Recent findings based on work by myself and my team at King’s College London, have demonstrated that people with the inflammatory conditions have lower rates of remission and a higher disability occurrence.
There is a growing recognition that the inflammatory states mediated by obesity and those by inflammatory rheumatic diseases share common pathways. Some have suggested that, in fact, obesity is a low-grade chronic inflammatory condition.
Strong argument to include obesity screening
Based on our data, there is a strong argument to include obesity screening and management as a central part of all treatment plans for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The study looked at the associations between BMI and disease activity status (DAS), in patients. It found that those participants with higher BMI and in particular, obesity had significantly lower chances of achieving remission.
Regarding disability, obesity increased disability occurrence by 63 per cent and higher DAS was significantly predictive of higher disability rates.
Potentially better results
Obesity is potentially a reversible comorbidity (the presence of two or more diseases in the same person) and successfully treating it can contribute to better disease activity and results.
There are many ways to enact a healthier lifestyle. These include improvements to your diet, reducing your alcohol intake and no smoking. Furthermore, light exercise coinciding with medication and physiotherapy can really assist.
Make an appointment with Dr Elena Nikiphorou if you’re concerned about rheumatoid arthritis. You can find her Top Doctors profile here.