BMI Plays a Role in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Ability for Remission
Researchers have found that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with a low BMI or high BMI may have a more difficult time achieving a sustained remission. A study by Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) researchers found the body mass index (BMI) plays a role in patients ability for RA remission and those who were significantly underweight or overweight/obese were the least likely to remain in remission.
For the study, researchers observed 944 patients with early RA and grouped them into categories based on BMI. Over a span of 3 years, patient’s symptoms were measured using the DAS28, which measures the number of swollen and tender joints, as well as inflammation markers in the blood. The researchers defined sustained remission as having low disease activity at two consecutive doctor visits three to six months apart. The results showed that of the 944 patients, two percent of patients were underweight and 65 percent were either overweight or obese. Those who had a higher BMI had worse function and those with a low and high BMI had worse inflammation.
“What’s striking is that if you look at the BMI classifications, all the patients in the underweight or overweight categories were much less likely to achieve sustained remission compared to those with a normal BMI,” said Susan Goodman, M.D., a rheumatologist at HSS. “Patients who were severely obese had an even lower chance of achieving sustained remission. Individuals in the highest BMI categories also had more inflammation and more pain.”
“Our findings represent the first study to present evidence that BMI should be considered among the modifiable risk factors for poor RA outcomes,” said Dr. Goodman. “There are many things patients can do to manage the disease. Along with timely diagnosis and treatment, weight control and other good practices can result in better outcomes.”