, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 315-322
Date: 31 Mar 2009

Rheumatoid cachexia, central obesity and malnutrition in patients with low-active rheumatoid arthritis: feasibility of anthropometry, Mini Nutritional Assessment and body composition techniques

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Abstract

Background and aims

The concurrent decrease in fat free mass (FFM) and increase in fat mass (FM), including central obesity, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may be related to increased cardiovascular morbidity as well as to functional decline. The objectives of this study were to evaluate body composition and nutritional status in patients with RA and the feasibility of bioelectrical impedance (BIA) to detect rheumatoid cachexia.

Methods

Eighty RA outpatients (76% women), mean age 61 (range 22–80) years and with mean disease duration of 6 (range 1–52) years, were assessed by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), BIA and the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).

Results

Fat free mass index (FFMI; kg/m2) was low in 26% of the women and in 21% of the men. About every fifth patient displayed concomitant low FFMI and elevated fat mass index (FMI; kg/m2), i.e. rheumatoid cachexia. BMI and MNA were not able to detect this condition. Sixty-seven percent had increased WC. Reduced FFM was independently related to age (p = 0.022), disease duration (p = 0.027), ESR (p = 0.011) and function trendwise (p = 0.058). There was a good relative agreement between DXA and BIA (FM r 2 = 0.94, FFM r 2 = 0.92; both p < 0.001), but the limits of agreement were wide for each variable, i.e. for FM −3.3 to 7.8 kg; and for FFM −7.9 to 3.7 kg.

Conclusion

Rheumatoid cachexia and central obesity were common in patients with RA. Neither BMI nor MNA could detect this properly. There was a good relative agreement between DXA and BIA, but the limits of agreement were wide, which may restrict the utility of BIA in clinical practice.

This work has in part been presented at the Congress of American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco, October 2008.