Commentary| Volume 41, ISSUE 7, P1246-1255, July 2019

Extra-articular Manifestations and Comorbidity in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Potential Impact of Pre–Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention

  • Jon T. Giles
    Address correspondence to: Jon T. Giles, MD, MPH, Division of Rheumatology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 W. 168th St, Physicians & Surgeons Building, Suite 3-450, New York, NY 10032, USA.
    Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY, USA
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      Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with a wide variety of extra-articular manifestations and comorbidities, several of which can be organ- or even life-threatening. These extra-articular manifestations and comorbidities can also contribute to the physical disability and psychological morbidity of RA that lead to reduced quality of life, higher direct and indirect costs, and societal burden of the disease. Although the expansion of RA treatment options and adoption of treat-to-target approaches has reduced the incidence and severity of several nonarticular manifestations of RA, such as rheumatoid vasculitis and cardiovascular disease events, this does not seem to be shared by all RA comorbidities. Moreover, a number of highly prevalent and impactful RA-driven comorbidities, such as accelerated atherosclerosis, interstitial lung disease, and sarcopenia, can present clinically in the years before the manifestation of joint pain or observable synovitis. A larger proportion of patients with RA have atherosclerosis, myocardial dysfunction, interstitial lung disease, and sarcopenia that is subclinical in the preclinical and earliest clinical phases of RA, emphasizing the importance of targeting the pre-RA phase for the prevention of comorbidities that are often poorly responsive to treatment once they develop. Herein, we review the potential impact of pre-RA prevention on the incidence and burden of extra-articular manifestations and nonarticular comorbidities.

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