Gastro Woes Often Strike Rheumatoid Arthritis
MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- People with rheumatoid
arthritis are at increased risk for gastrointestinal problems, such
as ulcers and bleeding, and also for death related to
gastrointestinal issues, a new study says.
The findings highlight the need to develop new ways to prevent
and treat gastrointestinal complications in rheumatoid arthritis
patients, according to the Mayo Clinic researchers.
They examined data collected from 813 rheumatoid arthritis
patients and an equal number of patients without the disease
between 1980 and 2008.
During that time, the incidence of upper gastrointestinal
problems in rheumatoid arthritis patients declined but was still
higher than in people without rheumatoid arthritis: 2.9 vs. 1.7 per
100-person years. Rheumatoid arthritis patients also had a higher
rate of lower gastrointestinal problems than people without RA: 2.1
vs. 1.4 per 100-person years.
The researchers also found that 229 of the rheumatoid arthritis
patients died and that gastrointestinal problems such as bleeds,
perforations and obstructions were significantly associated with
"Our findings emphasize that physicians and patients must be vigilant for these complications, which can occur without causing abdominal pain," study co-author Dr. Eric Matteson, chair of the rheumatology department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a Mayo news release.
Quitting smoking and reducing use of corticosteroids may be
important ways to cut the risk of gastrointestinal complications in
rheumatoid arthritis patients, he added.
The study was published online last week in
The Journal of Rheumatology.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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