Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmmune disease with unknown cause that primary affects the synovial tissue resulting in uncontrolled proliferation of the synovium and a marked increase in disability and mortality. The early diagnosis and early effective treatment of RA with DMARDs is critical to optimal long-term outcomes. New criteria for the classification of RA allow for earlier classification/diagnosis of patients. Further, it is now universally accepted that quantifying absolute disease activity and adjusting therapy with a goal of remission or low-disease activity is critical. Since at least 18 DMARDs are now available to treat RA and they can and often should be used in combinations (with the exception of biological combinations) the possible options are daunting. During this session we will review the most relevant data and discuss a rational approach to optimal early control of RA disease activity.
Upon completion of this session, participants should be able to:
- identify the clinical syndrome of rheumatoid arthritis early in its course
- determine which modalities are of use in diagnosis and determining prognosis
- evaluate which therapeutic regimens yield the best long-term outcomes
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