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Obesity and Rheumatoid Arthritis

| Date Posted: 5/18/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in the hands and feet by attacking affects the lining of the joints causing painful swelling that leads to bone erosion and joint deformity.  An autoimmune disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks its own body’s tissues.  RA typically affects hands and feet but can travel to the knees and elbows and other joints in the body.

Aside from joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also produce fevers and fatigue.  It is more common in women than in men and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

*FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital offers treatments for RA and pain that may be related to arthritis.  For instance, if you are currently having pain in your hands FirstHealth offers special Hand Therapy.  For more information on rheumatoid arthritis including symptoms and treatments visit FirstHealth’s website.  FirstHealth is also currently running clinical trials for patients that have RA. click here to register.

Between 1995 and 2007 there has been a steady 2.5% increase of RA per year (Source: Rheumatoid Arthritis on Rise in Women).  Between 1997 and 2007 there have been a 7.2% increase in obesity and a 9.1% increase within the last five years (Source: Obesity Rates Continue to Climb in the U.S.; John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health).  Is there a connection between the two?  According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, obesity and RA may be connected in women.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic pulled records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, which is a unique research infrastructure that allows for population-based medical research in Olmsted County, Minnesota.  The project is collaboration between Olmsted Medical Center, the Mayo Clinic, and Rochester Family Medicine Clinic.  The records consisted of 1,626 participants; 813 adults as a control group and 813 adults with rheumatoid arthritis.  Approximately 30 percent of patients in each group were obese and 68 percent were women.  The study found that rheumatoid arthritis rose 9.2 percent per 100,000 women from 1985-2007 and obesity most likely accounted for 52 percent of that increase (Source: Mayo Clinic News: Obesity Fuels Rise in Rheumatoid Arthritis).

The exact reason behind the correlation is still unknown and more research is needed to make that determination.  “We know that fat tissues and cells produce substances that are active in inflammation and immunity.  We know too that obesity is related to many other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, and now perhaps to autoimmunity.”  Dr. Matteson, chair of the Division of Rheumatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.  “It adds another reason to reduce and prevent obesity…”

FirstHealth has multiple resources to help battle obesity including bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery includes a variety of procedures for those who are obese.  It is achieved my reducing the size of the stomach, through the removal of a portion of the stomach, or my re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch.  Visit FirstHealth for more information about their bariatric surgery options.

FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has partnered with Pinehurst Surgical to establish a comprehensive Bariatric Surgical Program that offers resources for weight loss and weight loss surgery for the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of North Carolina and beyond. Free weight-loss surgery seminars are offered bi-monthly on the first Thursday and the third Monday of each month in Pinehurst, NC.  Call (800) 213-3284 for more information or click here to register.

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