Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Are at Increased Risk of Sarcopenia

RA and sarcopeniaLatest research findings have uncovered that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are at an increased risk of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a condition categorized by low muscle strength, low muscle mass, and low physical performance. Factors that contribute to RA patients experiencing higher rates of sarcopenia include aging, disease durations, destruction of the joints, and malnutrition.

The researchers aimed to determine the prevalence of sarcopenia among RA patients through a cross-sectional study. The study involved 388 consecutive female outpatients with RA admitted to the Kyoto University Hospital Rheumatic Disease Center in 2014.


Muscle mass was examined along with muscle strength and bone mineral density.

Prevalence of sarcopenia among patients was 37.1 percent. Low muscle mass was seen among 49 percent of the patients and among those over the age of 65, 51 percent were diagnosed with sarcopenia and 60.1 percent with low muscle mass. Prevalence of sarcopenia was higher in older age.

Patients with sarcopenia had greater RA activity, greater joint destruction, higher bone mineral density, and more cases of bone fractures. Furthermore, treatment with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) for RA was less frequent among patients with sarcopenia.

Additional research is required to better understand the links between rheumatoid arthritis and sarcopenia. So far, the researchers suggest that older age, disease duration, and nutrition play large contributing factors to a higher risk of sarcopenia in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Additionally, the use of bDMARDs to treat rheumatoid arthritis may work as a suppressant of sarcopenia in patients – but more research is required to determine this as well.

Although one cannot slow down aging, it’s important that you work on your nutrition as a means of promoting muscle mass growth and muscle strength and work closely with your rheumatologist to find an effective treatment to manage RA and reduce your risk of sarcopenia.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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