Study will increase knowledge about living habits with RA

Study will increase knowledge about living habits with RA

A new study seeks to increase knowledge about advice for lifestyle habits given to people who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Lars Alfredsson, professor of epidemiology at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, is researching rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He has run the Eira study together with Lars Klareskog, which has collected a huge amount of data from patients to research the mystery of rheumatism. Now there is a new project which will gather knowledge about how people's lifestyles affect their disease following diagnosis, in order to be able to give evidence-based advice to patients.

 What is the purpose of the project? 

The purpose of the project is to lay the foundation for evidence-based counseling about the choices a person affected by RA can make in terms of their lifestyle in order to feel better. Patients today receive a lot of advice, but sometimes there is quite a bit of evidence just linked to RA.

Specifically, the study will look at the significance for the onset and course of RA of lifestyle factors such as smoking, BMI, diet and exercise habits as well as factors related to working life. As these factors can be influenced by the patient and those around them, this information could lead to preventive measures against RA.

How is the project going?

The collection of RA data RA started back in 1995. Today in 2020 we have a lot of data to research. Much of the research has focused on how people develop RA. The next step is to try to see what affects its course once someone has fallen ill. It is not at all certain that the same factors which cause you to fall ill will affect how things go later. It can be the same factors, but it can also be completely different. 

We have data where people have answered questions about factors connected with the onset of their disease and beforehand. This information can be used to study the factors that will affect how the disease will progress for people in the future. To find out what the course of the disease looks like for people with RA, we use information from the Swedish Rheumatology's Quality Register, SRQ. They collect this sort of data in a standardized way.

 Sometimes people who find out they have RA change their lifestyles, and we also collect this information within the framework of the EIRA study. This allows us to answer questions about whether the course of the disease is affected by changing lifestyles.

Why is this important to investigate?

This is important to investigate because it is an important question for us to be able to answer from the patient's point of view. If I have become ill, what can I do to influence how things will go for me? It is important to see how a disease progresses in general, but also to study whether certain environmental factors interact with, for example, drug treatment. Among other things, we have seen that smoking affects the effects of medication. 

Diet is also an important area we want to try to tackle. But this is a difficult area, because dietary intake is difficult to measure. Other factors we are interested in are BMI; knowledge about the relationship between BMI and the course of RA is incomplete. 

It will be very exciting to investigate these areas further, and we hope we can contribute to improved, evidence-based counseling about what a person with RA can do to help themselves feel better and improve their disease outlook.