New York, April 30 (IANS) Obese patients with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to experience progressive disability than patients who are overweight, according to a new study.
Overweight means having more body weight than is considered normal or healthy for one's age or build, while obesity is the condition of the excess amount of body fat with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30.
The researchers found that severe obesity was associated with more rapid progression of disability.
The study, published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research, also found that patients who lost weight tended to become disabled more quickly.
Health providers need to recognise unintentional weight loss as a poor prognostic sign and refer patients for strength training, physical therapy, and other interventions to prevent disability, said the researcher.
"We believe that this is because when people get older and acquire illness, they tend to lose weight," said Joshua Baker of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
"So, this study suggests that patients with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity would benefit from intentional weight loss through a comprehensive management strategy; however, when we see that someone is losing weight without trying, it's probably a poor prognostic sign, especially if they are already thin," Baker added.
As new therapies and approaches to weight loss become available, these results will help promote their use in patients with arthritis, to help prevent disability over the long-term, the researcher said.
For the study, the team examined information on 23,323 patients with rheumatoid arthritis.