Weight Gain, but No Increase in BP, Seen With Low-Dose Glucocorticoids in RA

Glucocorticoids led to 1.1 kg more weight gain than control treatment over two years using data from five pooled RCTs
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

TUESDAY, Aug. 15, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), low-dose glucocorticoid treatment is associated with an modest increase in weight over two years but no increase in blood pressure, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Andriko Palmowski, M.D., from Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and colleagues examined the effects of two years of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment in RA in a pooled analysis of five randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from 12 countries in Europe. The intervention included glucocorticoid at 7.5 mg or less prednisone equivalent per day.

Data were included from 1,112 participants (mean age, 61.4 years). The researchers found that in two years, both groups gained weight, but on average, glucocorticoids led to 1.1 kg more weight gain than control treatment. In both groups, the mean arterial pressure increased by about 2 mm Hg, with a difference between groups of −0.4 mm Hg. In sensitivity and subgroup analysis, these results were consistent. Most patients did not alter the number of antihypertensive drugs and no evidence of between-group differences was seen.

"This pooled analysis of five RCTs in RA found that two years of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment leads to a modest weight gain of about 1 kg but has no effect on blood pressure," the authors write.

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