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Does rheumatoid arthritis disease activity correlate with weather conditions?

  • Original Article - Observational Research
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To determine whether rheumatoid arthritis disease activity correlates with changing weather conditions. A longitudinal analysis of 133 patients attending the Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast was performed. Participants had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and were receiving subcutaneous anti-TNF therapy (Adalimumab or Etanercept) for a period of >6 months. Data were collected at five time points. This included tender joint count, swollen joint count, patient visual analogue score (VAS), erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, VAS, and DAS-28 (Disease Activity Score). Each weather factor (maximum, minimum temperature, pressure, rainfall, sunshine, humidity, and wind-speed) was analysed against each patients’ DAS-28 score at five time points, using an analysis of covariance. A significant correlation was noted between low DAS-28 and increased hours of sunshine (p < 0.001). Sunny conditions were associated with a DAS-28 reduction of 0.037 (95 % CI −0.059, −0.016) p < 0.001. A significant correlation between humidity and DAS-28 was also noted (p = 0.016). Increased humidity was associated with an increased DAS-28 of 0.007 (95 % CI 0.001, 0.013) p = 0.016. Higher temperatures were associated with a non-significant decrease in DAS-28 (p = 0.16). In this study, rheumatoid arthritis disease activity (as measured by DAS-28) was significantly lower in both more sunny and less humid conditions.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Ethics approval was obtained for this study from the Office for Research Ethics Committees Northern Ireland (ORECNI). REC Reference Number-07/NIR01/119.

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Correspondence to E. M. Savage.

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Savage, E.M., McCormick, D., McDonald, S. et al. Does rheumatoid arthritis disease activity correlate with weather conditions?. Rheumatol Int 35, 887–890 (2015).

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