Steroids slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 12, 2007

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Low doses of glucocorticoids reduce joint damage if used in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, according to an evidence review in the January Cochrane Library.

Researchers analyzed 15 studies involving 1,414 patients who received either steroids or placebo along with a disease-modifying anti-rheumatoid drug. Participants were x-rayed periodically to assess their joints. Those who received these drugs early in the course of their disease experienced less deterioration.

"Such treatment should be made readily available to patients," wrote the authors from Liverpool Women's Hospital, England.

Previous reviews have shown that these drugs reduce the symptoms of this disease, but concerns about long-term cardiovascular effects associated with these medications have not been resolved. The authors are calling for further research into possible adverse reactions over a longer time.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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