Rheumatoid arthritis can be a painful condition for many, affecting their movement. While the disease inflames the joints and tissues, it can also cause problems for other organs, including the lung and heart, according to the National Institutes of Health. While there is no cure for the disease, there are medical supplies available to help with the discomfort.
A new study presented during the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism reports that patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and smoke may have a negative response to their anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drugs. The researchers looked at more than 2,800 patients who were given anti-TNF therapy. Approximately 19 percent of these test subjects were smokers, while the other 81 percent were not.
The study's authors found that those who smoked had a significantly higher score on the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI), which measures the disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers noted that these findings did not come as a surprise.
"There have been several studies which have investigated factors affecting response to anti-TNFs, but this is the first study to investigate response factors in such a large cohort of people," said Olzem Pala from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the study's lead author. "Being able to better predict response rates to treatment means that rheumatologists can discuss the findings with their patients who smoke and strongly encourage them to quit. This may also motivate them to develop successful strategies for smoking cessation in order to maximize effect of this expensive group of medications and potentially increase quality of life for these patients."
Quitting smoking may be important for those in elderly care, as another study presented at the meeting found that people who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis were able to increase their life expectancy if they could control the disease through treatments. Researchers out of Germany followed 8,908 patients with the disease and found that those who received a non-biological treatment decreased their mortality rate by 20.6 while people who were exposed to anti-TNFs showed a 10.6 mortality rate. The scientists pointed out that on average, men and women with the disease have a shortened lifespan of 2.2 years compared to their peers without rheumatoid arthritis.
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