Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) damages joints to such as extent that it could cause severe physical disability. The pain and disability accompanying the disease deters patients from exercise and other physical activity. Newer drugs provide significant benefit to severe cases, however at an additional cost.
Repeated hospital admissions also increase the cost of treatment. Hence, identifying risk factors that increase hospitalization due to RA and controlling them could reduce cost of treatment and improve the quality of life in these patients.
AdvertisementA study was conducted to investigate whether RA disease activity and disability and/or physical activity have an influence on the number of times the patient is hospitalized and the duration of hospitalization.
The study was conducted in 244 RA patients. They were assessed for physical activity using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, disease activity using C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and disease activity score, and disability using the Health Assessment Questionnaire. These patients were followed up for the number of times they were hospitalized and the length of hospitalization for a period of 1 year following enrollment into the study.
The study found that reduced physical activity and an increase in disease activity is directly related to increased hospitalizations in RA patients. It also found that only 19% patients followed the recommended level of physical activity. Exercise could benefit RA patients by possibly reducing fatigue, inflammation, increasing muscle mass and bone mineral density and improving cardiovascular health.
Thus lifestyle changes with an increase in physical activity as well as adequate treatment to reduce disease activity could reduce hospitalizations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
1. Disease activity and low physical activity associate with number of hospital admissions and length of hospitalisation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; George S Metsios et al; BMC Arthritis & Research 2011, 13:R108