Early treatment may prevent or delay onset of rheumatoid arthritis

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early treatment rheumatoid arthritis, DMARD, delay onset rheumatoid arthritisEarly intervention could reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis onset in people who are likely to develop the condition, says research in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Recent advances in understanding how rheumatoid arthritis develops has led to promoting very early intervention with drugs. The most recent analysis of the data suggests this is the right approach to take.

Experts looked at 10 trials of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or glucocorticoids in 1,156 people who had genetic and/or environmental risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis, systemic autoimmunity associated with rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms without clinical arthritis, unclassified arthritis and in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis was available for nine studies, assessing methylprednisolone, methotrexate, a tumour necrosis factor blocker, abatacept or rituximab.

In people with joint pain who were at risk of rheumatoid arthritis, there was no reduction in rheumatoid arthritis occurrence. But for those with undifferentiated arthritis, there was a significant risk reduction. The authors conclude:

“This meta analysis demonstrates that early therapeutic intervention may significantly reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis onset in this very first phase of the disease.”

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