The aim of this study was to analyse the change in aerobic capacity from disease onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over 16.2 years, and its associations with disease activity and cardiovascular risk factors. Twenty-five patients (20 f/5 m), diagnosed with RA 1995-2002 were tested at disease onset and after mean 16.2 years. Parameters measured were: sub-maximal ergometer test for aerobic capacity, functional ability, self-efficacy, ESR, CRP and DAS28. At follow-up, cardiovascular risk factors were assessed as blood lipids, glucose concentrations, waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), body composition, pulse wave analysis and carotid intima-media thickness. Aerobic capacity [median (IQR)] was 32.3 (27.9-42.1) ml O2/kg x min at disease onset, and 33.2 (28.4-38.9) at follow-up (p>0.05). Baseline aerobic capacity was associated with follow-up values of: BMI (rs = -.401, p = .047), waist circumference (rs = -.498, p = .011), peripheral pulse pressure (rs = -.415, p = .039) self-efficacy (rs = .420, p = .037) and aerobic capacity (rs = .557, p = .004). In multiple regression models adjusted for baseline aerobic capacity, disease activity at baseline and over time predicted aerobic capacity at follow-up (AUC DAS28, 0-24 months; β = -.14, p = .004). At follow-up, aerobic capacity was inversely associated with blood glucose levels (rs = -.508, p = .016), BMI (rs = -.434, p = .030), body fat% (rs = -.419, p = .037), aortic pulse pressure (rs = -.405, p = .044), resting heart rate (rs = -.424, p = .034) and self-efficacy (rs = .464, p = .020) at follow-up. We conclude that the aerobic capacity was maintained over 16 years. High baseline aerobic capacity associated with favourable measures of cardiovascular risk factors at follow-up. Higher disease activity in early stages of RA predicted lower aerobic capacity after 16.2 years.
Hörnberg, K., Sundström, B., Innala, L., Rantapää-Dahlqvist, S., & Wållberg-Jonsson, S. (2017). Aerobic capacity over 16 years in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Relationship to disease activity and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. PLoS ONE, 12(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190211