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Insider Arthritis Tips Newsletter January 2011
January 15, 2011

"If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."
-- Vince Lombardi, American Football Coach

Reporting Arthritis News From December 2010

Investigational Anti-Inflammatory Naproxcinod May Benefit Patients With Hip OA

Nancy Walsh writing in Medpage Today reported on a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, "Treatment with the investigational anti-inflammatory naproxcinod led to significant improvements in symptoms among patients with hip osteoarthritis and was not associated with serious gastrointestinal or cardiovascular adverse events."
Naproxcinod belongs to a new class of drugs referred to as cyclooxygenase-inhibiting nitric oxide donators and was developed to reduce side effects of long-term use of many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

It is thought the drug can provide anti-inflammatory effect while reducing blood pressure and vascular tone and improving gastrointestinal lining blood flow and production of mucus thereby reducing the toxicity associated with NSAIDS.

Comment: NSAIDS have been limited by their side effects on the stomach. Maybe this one is different. This drug still won’t get around the problem with cardiovascular events though.

Sarcopenia Significantly Associated With Osteoporosis In Women With Hip Fractures

Laura Dean writing in Medwire reported on a report published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, "Sarcopenia, or low muscle mass, is very common and significantly associated with osteoporosis in women with hip fracture." After using bone density and body mass scans to measure body composition, and calculating lean mass of muscle in 313 women with hip fractures and adjusting for other factors, researchers "report the study found that sarcopenia was significantly associated with osteoporosis.
Women with sarcopenia were 1.8 times more likely to have osteoporosis than women without sarcopenia." This may be a clue as to prevention- advise resistance training to prevent these women from developing sarcopenia and subsequent hip fractures.

Comment: Big problem of aging is loss of muscle mass leading to an increased risk of falls.

Plaquenil May Benefit RA Patients Who Also Develop Diabetes

Nancy Walsh reporting in Medpage Today, wrote "The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), commonly used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is also effective for diabetes," according to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Among patients with diabetes who began treatment with hydroxychloroquine, HbA1c levels fell by 0.66%, whereas among those who initiated treatment with methotrexate, HbA1c levels decreased by only 0.11%.

Comment: Very interesting! A medicine that works for two diseases.

RA Diagnosis Linked To Rapid Onset Of Heart Attack Risk

Denise Mann writing for WebMD reported that, according to a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, "Heart attack risk significantly increases one year after rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis." Swedish researchers followed 7,469 people who were diagnosed with RA from 1995 to 2006 for about 12 years to see how many of them developed heart disease and heart attacks compared with 37,024 people without RA. They found that the risk of heart attack "was 60% higher" among people with RA, while "the risk of other forms of heart disease was 50% higher beginning one year after their diagnosis compared to their counterparts without RA."

Comment: While other studies have shown the link between RA and heart disease, this is the first showing how quickly that risk occurs.

Gingko Biloba Appears To Reduce Effects Of Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis In Rats

Laura Dean writing in Medwire reported that an extract of Ginkgo biloba could restore bone with steroid caused osteoporosis, according to a study published in the journal Fitoterapia. Working with rats, researchers found that the percentage of bone in rats with osteoporosis treated with gingko biloba was significantly higher than that found in untreated animals with osteoporosis, and similar to that in an untreated, non-osteoporotic control group. The study authors explained that gingko biloba contains the phytoestrogen compounds quercetin, kaempferol, and ishorhamnetin, which have been shown to stimulate bone growth and block loss of bone.

Comment: Interesting stuff and promising for people who need to undergo treatment with steroids. Another example of how natural herbs can be incorporated into traditional medicine.

Arthritis Treatment From Starfish

The UK's Daily Mail reported, "Starfish may soon provide an unlikely treatment for inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, according to marine scientists who have been studying the slimy substance that coats the animal." Lead researcher Dr. Charlie Bavington said , "The starfish slime could be used to coat the blood vessels which would let the white blood cells to flow easily." And that "could reduce the amount of drugs patients would need to take, which often have unwanted side effects."

Comment: And I thought they were just pretty…

Garlic Could Protect Against Hip Osteoarthritis

Findings published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, show the potential for using compounds found in garlic to develop treatments for osteoarthritis.

The study looked at over 1,000 healthy female twins, many of whom had no symptoms of arthritis. The team carried out a detailed assessment of the diet patterns of the twins and analyzed these alongside x-rays.
They found that those who consumed a healthy diet with a high intake of fruit and vegetables, particularly alliums such as garlic, had less evidence of early osteoarthritis in the hip. The researchers found that a compound called diallyl disulphide in garlic limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes when introduced to a human cartilage cell-line in the laboratory. Dr Frances Williams, lead author from the Department of Twin Research at King's College London, says, "We don't yet know if eating garlic may point the way towards future treatments and prevention of hip osteoarthritis."

Comment: Make sure to take your breath mints if you’re going to do this.

A quick reminder:

Visit our practice website. The address is: Arthritis Treatment Center Lots of good info and a daily video blog filled with really good stuff.


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Wei's World January 2010

Some time ago, I wrote about our dog, Mei-Mei.

I never had a dog growing up mainly because I had pretty bad asthma. And also my parents really weren’t “dog people.” But our kids had been begging us for a dog for many years. So, two years ago, my wife arranged for our family to get a Labradoodle puppy.

Her name is Mei-Mei and I think she’s pretty nice, even though, truthfully, I really haven’t had much experience with dogs.

Mei-Mei (the name means “little sister” in Chinese), I’m told, is very calm for a two year old. This was really brought home to me when my wife and I took her to visit my father in Philadelphia. My dad has dementia and is living in an assisted living facility. The residents of this place are, as you can imagine, all elderly.

When we first entered, the residents in the lobby all seemed to be so sad as they either shuffled along on their walkers or were wheeling themselves slowly in their transport chairs.

But an amazing transformation occurred when we walked in with Mei-Mei. Suddenly, the residents all became animated as they began talking about dogs. They surrounded her and they took turns petting and stroking her.

Mei-Mei, to her credit, took it all in stride and actually seemed to enjoy it. She slowly ambled up to each person, sat down, got her head patted or neck scratched… and then trotted on to the next person. I’m pretty skeptical when people try to tell me how smart their dogs are. But I could swear she seemed to understand the pleasure she was giving to these people. Maybe it was my imagination.

No jumping, whining, or barking. It was interesting to observe the happiness she created. And I now understand why some dogs are used as therapy dogs in nursing homes and hospitals. Mei-Mei certainly brought joy to these residents.

I’ve been told we got “a good one.” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “dog person” yet… but I’ll confess I’m a lot closer than I used to be.
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