The Effect of Low-Dose Glucocorticoids Over Two Years on Weight and Blood Pressure in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Individual Patient Data From Five Randomized Trials

Andriko Palmowski, Sabrina M Nielsen, Zhivana Boyadzhieva, Linda Hartman, Judith Oldenkott, Björn Svensson, Ingiäld Hafström, Siegfried Wassenberg, Ernest Choy, John Kirwan, Robin Christensen, Maarten Boers, Frank Buttgereit

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Weight gain and hypertension are well known adverse effects of treatment with high-dose glucocorticoids.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of 2 years of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

DESIGN: Pooled analysis of 5 randomized controlled trials with 2-year interventions allowing concomitant treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

SETTING: 12 countries in Europe.

PATIENTS: Early and established RA.

INTERVENTION: Glucocorticoids at 7.5 mg or less prednisone equivalent per day.

MEASUREMENTS: Coprimary end points were differences in change from baseline in body weight and mean arterial pressure after 2 years in intention-to-treat analyses. Difference in the change of number of antihypertensive drugs after 2 years was a secondary end point. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses were done to assess the robustness of primary findings.

RESULTS: A total of 1112 participants were included (mean age, 61.4 years [SD, 14.5]; 68% women). Both groups gained weight in 2 years, but glucocorticoids led, on average, to 1.1 kg (95% CI, 0.4 to 1.8 kg; P < 0.001) more weight gain than the control treatment. Mean arterial pressure increased by about 2 mm Hg in both groups, with a between-group difference of -0.4 mm Hg (CI, -3.0 to 2.2 mm Hg; P = 0.187). These results were consistent in sensitivity and subgroup analyses. Most patients did not change the number of antihypertensive drugs, and there was no evidence of differences between groups.

LIMITATION: Body composition was not assessed, and generalizability to non-European regions may be limited.

CONCLUSION: This study provides robust evidence that low-dose glucocorticoids, received over 2 years for the treatment of RA, increase weight by about 1 kg but do not increase blood pressure.

PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: None.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftAnnals of Internal Medicine
Vol/bind176
Udgave nummer9
Sider (fra-til)1181-1189
Antal sider9
ISSN0003-4819
DOI
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2023

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