Obese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher disease activity scores (DAS) than non-obese patients, regardless of their disease stage, scientists presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014).

Some studies in the past have shown that treatment to target where it focuses on reducing DAS scores, is more effective in lowering disease activity and reaching remission than usual care. Obese patients may undergo a more aggressive treatment than non-obese patients due to their inflated DAS scores.

In the study, data from an international rheumatoid arthritis database (n=3534) were used to identify an early (<12 month disease duration) and established (>12 month disease duration) cohort. Patients’ DAS28 and body mass index (BMI) were collected. The cohorts were further categorized into 5 groups according to their BMI: 1) Underweight <18.5, 2) Normal 18.5-24.9, 3) Overweight 25-29.9, 4) Obese I 30-34.9 and 5) Obese II ≥35.

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The early rheumatoid arthritis cohort consisted of 1,553 patients with <1 year of disease duration. The established rheumatoid arthritis cohort consisted of 1,981 patients with a median disease duration of 7.2 years. The BMI categories were also similar in both cohorts (27.1 vs. 26.8, respectively).

Results of the analysis showed significant associations between BMI categories and disease characteristics. Study authors noted that this data supports the benefit of early, aggressive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in all patients.

For more information visit EULAR.org.