Participants Sought for Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Study

COM is seeking individuals with rheumatoid arthritis interested in participating in a 4-month study.

Participants Sought for Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Study

The Department of Physiology and the Arizona Arthritis Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in conjunction with the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are seeking individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who are interested in participating in a four-month study relating to the disease. Participants must be between 20 and 60 years of age, currently taking Remicade, and have no joint replacements.
The Strength-Training and Remicade Study is designed to test the effects of a four-month, individualized, supervised strength-training program in people with RA. Those with RA frequently experience reductions in muscle mass, strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, functional capacity and bone mass and increases in fat mass, fatigue, pain and depression. Thus, RA patients generally are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Aerobic and strength-training exercise programs have decreased these risks and shown positive outcomes in RA patients. However, more research is warranted to determine the specific intensity, dosage, and duration of strength-training exercise necessary to achieve effective, sustainable outcomes that will help improve the quality of life for those with RA.

The Strength-Training and Remicade Study will be the first continuously supervised, individualized, intensive, isotonic strength-training program with the largest sample size yet studied in the rheumatoid population. Strength-training programs will be tailored to the function and fitness level of each participant to allow for optimal progress and to promote long-term compliance. Study subjects also will be taking Remicade, one of the latest pharmaceutical therapies for RA patients, which has shown great success in improving outcomes in RA patients.

Previous exercise studies completed in the RA population have included only aerobic, non-weight-bearing or partially weight-bearing exercises, with few resistance or strength-training studies, according to study organizers. Completed studies were limited by small sample sizes, non-randomized design, limited study duration and follow-up or poor adherence. Outcomes have been difficult to compare between studies because of differences in test protocols and equipment and variability in the intensity and type of exercise.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function in the joints and inflammation in other body organs. RA affects more than 2 million Americans, the majority of whom (over 75 percent) are Caucasian and female. The peak onset of the disease occurs between the ages of 20 and 45. Most people with RA exhibit a chronic fluctuating course of disease that, if left untreated, results in progressive joint destruction, deformity, disability and premature death. The life expectancy of a person with RA is reduced by an average of 3 to 18 years, with a mortality rate twice that of the healthy U.S. population.

For information about participating in the Strength-Training and Remicade Study, contact Hilary Flint-Wagner, MPH, UA Department of Physiology, by telephone at 621-7592 or by e-mail at hilary@u.arizona.edu