A progressive, inflammatory disease affecting the joints and organs, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) claims more than two million Americans, mostly women over age 40, among its victims. While a cure has yet to be found, the treatment of RA patients has changed considerably over the last two decades. Today, the goal of therapy is not simply symptom relief, but the prevention of long-term structural damage and functional decline. Toward this end, various disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have been proven effective in clinical trials, on their own and in tandem with various tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists. While the recent increase in therapeutic options offers much promise, it has left doctors grappling with the question: What is the best treatment strategy for a patient newly diagnosed with RA?
The results of a long-term study, featured in the November 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), provide clear answers. A team of researchers in the Netherlands compared the four most widely sanctioned and commonly prescribed treatment strategies for very early RA on 508 patients. Primarily women, with a mean age of 54, the patients had suffered disease symptoms for an average of 23 weeks before entering the trial. After randomly assigning the patients to one of four treatment strategies, the researchers closely monitored the effects and benefits for each group over the course of one year.
Group 1 (126 patients) received standard DMARD therapy, starting with methotrexate. Group 2 (121 patients) was assigned to step-combination therapy, starting with methotrexate only, adding other DMARDs and prednisone. Group 3 (133 patients) started with a combination of methotrexate, sulphasalazine and prednisone. GroupPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Amy Molnar
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