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Rheumatoid Arthritis Gets New Classification System

Revised system may allow for earlier identification and treatment

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A revised system of classification for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may allow for earlier identification of the disease, earlier treatment, and ultimately better patient outcomes; the new system has been published in the September issues of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Daniel Aletaha, M.D., of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and colleagues identified factors that could distinguish those who are and those who are not at risk for RA, from among people with undifferentiated inflammatory synovitis.

The authors declared the classification "definite RA" as being based on a substantiated diagnosis of synovitis in one or more joints, absence of a different diagnosis that better explains the synovitis, and a collective score of six or more from single scores in the following four areas: number and site of joints affected (score range, zero to five), serologic abnormality (zero to three), acute phase response elevation (zero to one), and symptom duration levels (two levels; zero to one).

"In summary, the new American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism classification criteria for RA present a new approach with a specific emphasis on identifying patients with a relatively short duration of symptoms who may benefit from early institution of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy or entry into clinical trials of promising new agents that may halt the development of disease that currently fulfills the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.

Abstract - ARD
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Abstract - A&R
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