Objective: The aim of the present study is to describe the general characteristics of a cohort of patients with early arthritis in Argentina.
Methods: CONAART (Consorcio Argentino de Artritis Temprana--Argentine Consortium for Early Arthritis) is an initiative of seven rheumatology centres across Argentina. Patients were included if they had at least one or more swollen joints and <2 years of disease duration. Social, demographic, familiar, hereditary, clinical and laboratory data were recollected. At first visit and every year, X-rays of hands and feet were performed and working characteristics and pharmaco-economic data were re-collected.
Results: A total of 413 patients were included. Of them, 327 (79.2%) were women with a median age of 49 years and a median disease duration of 6 months. Of the total, 183 (44.3%) had RA (ACR 1987) and 167 (40.4%) undifferentiated arthritis (UA). Other diagnoses included: 12 crystalics, 11 PsA, 6 uSpA, 6 other CTD, 1 AS and 27 other diagnosis. As 85% of our population had RA and UA, we only compared these two groups of patients. Patients with RA had significantly worse activity parameters of the disease (DAS of 28 joints), functional capacity (HAQ) and quality of life (Rheumatoid Arthritis Quality of Life) than patients with UA. The frequency of RF and anti-CCP, and symmetrical distribution were also significantly higher in patients with RA compared with UA patients. All patients with RA initiated early specific treatment, in a period no longer than 6 months from the beginning of the disease.
Conclusion: Early arthritis clinics are a useful tool to identify and treat patients with different forms of joint involvement.