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Onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis in Winter and Spring is Worse

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:01pm

A recent research study has shown that when a patient’s first Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) symptoms occur can have an impact on the severity of the disease. If the disease onset was in winter the outcome was worse six months later when compared to patients whose symptoms began in summer.

Furthermore, RA patients that showed their first symptoms in spring also showed poorer outcomes compared to summer-onset patients.

The research was led by Dr. Gaël Mouterde of the Immuno-Rheumatology Department at Lapeyronie Hospital, Montpellier, France. The research analyzed x-rays from the French ESPOIR cohort and included 736 patients who were 36 to 60 years old. Of these, 567 were women.

According to Dr. Mouterde; “During our study of predictors of radiographic progression, we have unveiled a distinct relationship between RA progression and seasonal onset and postulate that this could be as a result of either a vitamin D deficiency or environmental factors, such as winter viruses, influencing protein citrullination. This finding may assist towards the identification of RA patients at a higher risk of developing structural damage, in order to propose early intensive therapy and minimize disease progression.”

No differences were visible in study participants a full year later. Researchers think that’s because these initial environmental factors have less of an effect over the long term.

Results of a new study were presented at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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