Strategies for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
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- Phillips, K., Aliprantis, A. & Coblyn, J. Drugs Aging (2006) 23: 773. doi:10.2165/00002512-200623100-00001
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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that affects millions of patients worldwide. As better therapies emerge for treatment of this condition, patients with RA are living longer and are more likely to experience diseases associated with aging such as osteoporosis. The aetiology of osteoporosis in patients with RA is multifactorial, with some bone loss attributable to the underlying inflammatory disease. Patients may also experience bone loss that is a consequence of therapy with corticosteroids. Progress in the diagnosis and evaluation of osteoporosis has led to a greater awareness of this major health problem. There have also been many advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of RA. However, recent studies have suggested that, despite our growing understanding of these diseases, therapies for preventing bone loss in this patient population are underutilised. Patients with RA, especially those taking corticosteroids or with persistent disease activity, must have their bone mass assessed with bone mineral density testing. RA patients with documented osteoporosis or those at high risk for the development of this potentially devastating complication should receive calcium and vitamin D supplementation as well as an anti-resorptive agent.