If you’ve recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory condition, you likely have painful, swollen joints along with elevated inflammatory markers in your blood. But achieving remission — generally defined and no or very minimal symptoms along with negligible signs of inflammation in the blood — is not only possible, it’s likely. As a result of advances in treatment, more than half of RA patients achieve remission with a year. Yet 45 percent percent do not. Why?

That’s one of the questions the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) study has been hoping to address. And thanks to a new study utilizing data from CATCH and presented at the 2018 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP) Annual Meeting in Chicago, we now have some answers.

The study, led by Susan J. Bartlett, PhD, from McGill University in Montreal, focused on 1,628 adults who had active disease in 2007 and were followed through 2016. At the one-year mark after diagnosis, 44 percent of women and 36 percent of men still had active disease (had not gone into remission).

In women, being obese more than doubled the risk of not achieving remission within 12 months.

In men, smoking was the biggest factor. Current smokers had a 3.5 greater odds of not reaching remission.

Patients who didn’t use methotrexate and those had more inflammation when the study began were also less likely to reach remission within a year.

While other factors — such as education, age, fatigue, and ethnicity — also play a role, the authors concluded that “obesity in women and current smoking in men were the strongest predictors of not achieving remission in the first 12 months, followed by non-use of [methotrexate]… Smoking cessation in men and weight reduction in women and optimizing [methotrexate] use may facilitate rapid reduction of inflammation, an essential goal of treatment in early RA.”

Learn About More Rheumatology Research Breakthroughs

Follow our latest ACR meeting coverage to read about the research findings that could affect your treatment, lifestyle, and overall health.

Get Involved with Patient-Centered Arthritis Research

If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or another musculoskeletal health condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. You can use ArthritisPower to track your disease symptoms, share patterns with your doctor, and participate in voluntary research studies. Learn more here.

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