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Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Starting Therapy Need to Stay Active, Study Suggests

A study reported that patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) either are sedentary even prior to initiation of methotrexate (MTX) or stop performing physical activity (PA) over the first year of treatment.

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The research utilized data from the Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication Study (RAMS) and included 1,468 volunteers (average age of 60 years, where 65.2% are female) with early RA starting MTX. Volunteers reported demographics and completed the questionnaires at baseline, 6 and 12 months, including reporting the number of days per week they performed at least >20 minutes of physical activity (PA).

Most of the volunteers were overweight with a median BMI of 27.2 kg/m2 and had moderate disease activity. Moreover, the population size had moderate levels of disability, pain, and fatigue.

Base on the data collected, there are 408 (27.8%) of the volunteers reported being sedentary, 518 (35.3%) had low PA levels (1 – 3 days per week), and 542 (36.9%) reported high PA levels (4 – 7 days per week). Majority of the volunteers (80%) maintained some PA or started doing PA between assessments.

In the meantime, physical activity level dropped in 24.1% (175/725) of the volunteers who were already active at baseline. Those still performing PA at 6 months, 22.6% (137/606) decreased their PA by 12 months, and 10.2% (62/606) stopped their physical activity completely.

The factors that are significantly correlated with physical activity (PA) interruption were baseline smoking, higher disability, and greater socioeconomic challenges.

Results of the study specify that a significant proportion of patients may benefit from interventions to keep them physically active. Public health strategies targeted at maintaining or promoting PA in RA need to consider socioeconomic barriers when designing and delivering interventions. For complete details of the study, click here.


Source: Rheumatology 2021;doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keab060

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