Changes in body composition after 2 years with rheumatoid arthritis.
ABSTRACT Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Possible predictors for CVD are early changes in body composition. We therefore evaluated changes in lean body mass (LBM), lean mass of arms and legs (LMAL), total body fat mass (BFM), and truncal fat distribution (FD) after 2 years with RA and possible predictors.
We registered 63 (45 women) RA patients with disease duration of ≤ 12 months at baseline and after 2 years. Disease Activity Score using 28 joint counts (DAS28), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score, body mass index (BMI), comorbidities, smoking, and medications were recorded. Total and regional lean mass and fat mass were measured with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The data were compared with 63 age- and gender-matched controls.
LBM and LMAL at baseline in RA patients were significantly lower in men (p = 0.020 and 0.002, respectively) compared to matched controls. Truncal FD was non-significantly increased in RA patients (women p = 0.133, men p = 0.119). The age-related deterioration with decreased LBM after 2 years (p = 0.002 in women and men) and increased BFM (p < 0.001) and truncal FD (p = 0.020) in women were all significantly less pronounced in RA patients than in matched controls.
In patients with early RA and after initiation of therapy, the age-related deterioration with decreasing LBM and increasing truncal FD was lower than in control subjects in this observational study. These potentially harmful alterations seem to be modifiable factors in patients with early RA.