If you are overweight and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), bariatric surgery may be able to help according to a research study conducted by the Rheumatology Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Research shows weight loss following bariatric weight loss surgery has been associated with improved RA disease control, a decrease in the need for medication and lower markers of inflammation.
Researchers followed patients a year after surgery and found out that a patient’s average weight loss was 90 lbs., which means patients lost 70 percent of their excess weight. As a result of drastic weight loss, RA disease activity had significantly improved according to Dr. Jeffery Sparks of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
At 6 months post-operative, patients lost an average of 72 lbs. and 6 years after surgery patients lost an average of 78 lbs.
Following bariatric surgery, only 6 percent of the patients followed had moderate or high RA disease activity. Prior to surgery, 57 percent of those studied had moderate to high RA disease activity. At the 6-year follow-up visit, 74 percent of patients were considered to be in remission. At enrollment in the study, only 26 percent of bariatric RA patients were in remission.
Results of this research study suggest that bariatric weight loss surgery may be able to significantly reduce the need for RA medications and may even induce long-term remission in some patients with RA (meaning these patients would require no more medication).
This study followed 53 RA patients, who underwent bariatric surgery procedures between 2000 and 2012. The average patient age was 47.9 and 94 percent of patients were female. Of the patients followed, 26 percent also presented with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Twenty-five percent of patients had a diagnosis of asthma or type II diabetes.
This was the first study of its kind that actually evaluated the impact of significant weight loss in RA patients as well as surgical weight loss interventions. While this study shows promise for those suffering from RA and obesity. Further research will need to be conducted on a larger scale to further substantiate the claims.
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