What Steroids Say About Future RA

Rheumatoid arthritis patient response to steroids may tell doctors future risk of active disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) There are many different types of medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Among these are steroids and a class of drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

How patients respond to steroid treatment may tell doctors if patients will have active rheumatoid arthritis after three months of DMARD treatment, according to a recent study.

This means arthritis patients need to stay in close communication with their doctor.

"See your doctor regularly."

Dr. Pascal Hendrik Pieter de Jong of University Medical Center in the Netherlands and colleagues studied patients who had a high risk of developing lasting arthritis.

The researchers wanted to see what factors were associated with the progression to active arthritis in these patients.

They found that patients who did not respond to glucocorticoid (a type of steroid) treatment after two weeks had 10.29 times the odds of having active rheumatoid arthritis after three months of DMARD treatment.

After correcting for other potential risk factors, the researchers found that patients who did not respond to steroid treatment had 14 times the odds of active arthritis compared to those who responded to steroid treatment.

These findings suggest patients' response to steroid treatment at two weeks may be a useful tool for spotting those patients who will probably have active rheumatoid arthritis after three months of DMARD treatment, the authors concluded.

Knowing which patients will have active disease down the road may help doctors adjust treatment prevent further progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

The research included 120 participants.

The study was published October 31 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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Review Date: 
October 30, 2012
Last Updated:
July 29, 2014