A new study from Italy published in the journal Medicine has indicated that patients who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (T2D). The researchers, led by Piero Ruscitti, MD, of the University of L’Aquila, initiated their study because they believed the development and prevalence of diabetes in people with RA were issues that were “underdiagnosed and undertreated.”
The research team enrolled 439 people with RA and followed them for one year. They evaluated them for high blood pressure; impaired fasting glucose (IFG), which is a type of prediabetes; and what’s known as EULAR-DAS28, a common measure of disease activity in RA. The patients were evaluated every three months for assessment of RA disease activity.
After one year, 7.1 percent of the study participants had developed Type 2 diabetes. The greatest likelihood of developing diabetes was seen in patients who had high blood pressure and IFG at the first observation and poor EULAR-DAS28 response after a year. Also, 7.7 percent of the subjects showed IFG after the one-year study period. The researchers’ analysis showed that high blood pressure and poor EULAR-DAS28 after one year increased the likelihood of showing IFG.
The authors concluded, “our study supports the hypothesis of a significant short-term risk of T2D in RA patients and of a close association between uncontrolled disease activity and glucose metabolism derangement.” They recommended that future research investigate ways of devising treatment plants that will reduce this risk.