Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition, with drugs attacking the immune system and making patients susceptible to infection. However, a new study now claims that a risk score could help doctors identify those most vulnerable.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recommend developing a system that uses information on how rheumatoid arthritis is affecting a patient, age, corticosteroid use and the existence of other illnesses.
This would then generate a score that would allow clinicians to compare patients against others, identifying those most at risk of infection.
Dr Eric Matteson, senior author of the study, claims the system can also be used to target those who need "more frequent follow-ups", in addition to creating measures for infection prevention and "possible changes in treatments".
"Rheumatoid arthritis patients are at higher risk of infection, and that risk is clearly not just because of the arthritis drugs," he concluded.
However, more research is still needed into the affects of rheumatoid arthritis on the body's defence systems.
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