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Rheumatoid Arthritis linked to an increased risk of COPD

October 19, 2017

New research suggests that rheumatoid arthritis may increase the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The findings, which appear in Arthritis Care & Research, indicate that greater vigilance may be needed to protect the respiratory health of individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions.

Research has demonstrated an association between COPD and inflammation, raising the question of whether prolonged inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis predispose individuals to COPD. To investigate, a team led by Diane Lacaille, MD, FRCPC, MHSc, of Arthritis Research Canada and the University of British Columbia, examined information on individuals in the province of British Columbia who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1996 and 2006, and compared it with information on matched individuals in the general population. The analysis included 24,625 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 25,396 controls.

The investigators found that the incidence of COPD hospitalization was greater in patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis had a 47% greater risk of needing to be hospitalized for COPD than controls. The increased risk remained significant after modelling for smoking and with varying COPD definitions.

"These findings are novel because it has only recently been recognized that inflammation plays a role in the development of COPD, and clinicians treating people with rheumatoid arthritis are not aware that their patients are at increased risk of developing COPD," said Dr. Lacaille. "Our results emphasize the need to control inflammation, and in fact to aim for complete eradication of inflammation through effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis."

Dr. Lacaille added that clinicians and people living with rheumatoid arthritis should be vigilant in watching for early symptoms of COPD. "That way, appropriate tests can be administered to diagnose COPD early, at the onset of symptoms, so that effective treatments for COPD can be initiated before irreversible damage to the lungs occurs." Such steps will improve long-term outcomes for patients and reduce the costs of COPD. The study also points to the need to address COPD risk factors--such as smoking--in people living with rheumatoid arthritis.
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Full Citation: "Risk of Incident Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Population Based Cohort Study." Katherine McGuire, J. Antonio Avina-Zubieta, John M. Esdaile, Mohsen Sadatsafavi, Eric C. Sayre, Michal Abrahamowicz, and Diane Lacaille. Arthritis Care & Research; Published Online: October 19, 2017 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.23410).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/acr.23410

Author Contact: Mira Galperin, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Arthritis Research Canada, at mgalperin@arthritisresearch.ca or +1 (604) 207-4010.

About the Journal

Arthritis Care & Research is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP), a division of the College. Arthritis Care & Research is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes both original research and review articles that promote excellence in the clinical practice of rheumatology. Relevant to the care of individuals with arthritis and related disorders, major topics are evidence-based practice studies, clinical problems, practice guidelines, health care economics, health care policy, educational, social, and public health issues, and future trends in rheumatology practice. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit the journal home page at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/acr.

About Wiley

Wiley, a global company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com.

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