Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferer? You Might Just Be Overweight

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Practitioners may need to begin addressing a patient’s weight prior to certain blood tests.  According to research published in Arthritis Care & Research journal, obesity in women can affect the results of blood tests used to diagnose and monitor rheumatoid arthritis.

“Obesity has been more precisely defined by the National Institutes of Health (the NIH) as a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 and above. (A BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight.) The BMI, a key index for relating body weight to height, is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared.”

Typically when a person is considered potentially at risk for rheumatoid arthritis, doctors will look for levels of C-reative protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) in the blood. The presence of both is often a strong indicator of the disease. However, existing studies show that people who have both proteins are also more likely to have a higher BMI.

BMI stands for body mass index. It’s a number which takes into account a person’s height and weight to calculate whether they are obese. Calculate your BMI.

Bearing that in mind, this new study reports that obesity may be influencing these blood tests. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Health System analyzed data collected from 2,013 participants with rheumatoid arthritis and compared it to the general population.

Both women with rheumatoid arthritis and those in the general population with a high BMI were also more likely to have higher levels of CRP – particularly those with severe obesity.

“Our results suggest that obesity may lead to increased levels of CRP and ESR in women with rheumatoid arthritis,” explained Michael George, MD MSCE, who led the study. “The increase in these levels of inflammation was not because rheumatoid arthritis was worse in these women. In fact, we found that obesity leads to very similar increases in these lab tests even in women without rheumatoid arthritis.”

“Physicians might assume that high levels of inflammation mean that a patient has rheumatoid arthritis or that their rheumatoid arthritis requires more treatment when in fact a mild increase in levels of inflammation could be due to obesity instead,”  he added. What’s most important to note here is the difference in treatment protocols for both conditions. A person diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis faces a much more intense course of treatment – a series of pharmaceutical drugs that, according to the Mayo Clinic, come with damaging side effects such as kidney and liver damage. Whereas a person who needs to lose weight will be required to adopt a strict dietary regimen. If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but think you might need to shed additional weight, please call us at the clinic.

LOSE WEIGHT and watch a whole host of symptoms and possible diagnosis disappear!

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