A 15-year follow-up study on the outcome in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis
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This study aimed to investigate the natural course of early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after treatment for 15 years based on the present data of patients who had been enrolled in a 1 year study of early RA conducted by the Japan Rheumatism Foundation in 1981 and 1982. An examination form was mailed to each doctor who had participated in the previous study requesting them to record the present data of the patients. The patients were requested to fill out the AIMS2 questionnaire. Patients had been randomly assigned into three treatment groups: those treated with gold, with d-penicillamine and without slow acting antirheumatic drugs (SAARDs). Information was obtained concerning 74 of 161 patients who had completed the previous 1 year study. Clinical remission was observed in 20 of 74 patients. The current status of RA by physician’s assessment was reported to be well controlled in 32 of 48 cases (66.7%); however, no remarkable improvement was seen in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, and the number of painful joints compared with the values at entry 15 years previously. Radiographical stages showed progression and the average score of AIMS2 had deteriorated in most cases. High ESR, progression of joint damage and positive rheumatoid factors at the early stage of RA were suggested to be factors relating to QOL deterioration. These results suggest that it would be difficult to modify the natural course of RA by currently used treatment strategies with SAARDs.
Key wordsSlow acting antirheumatic drugs prognostic factors AIMS2 remission joint damages
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