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.
A 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 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