Bone Mineral Density in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis and 4-Year Follow-up Results

J Clin Rheumatol. 2016 Mar;22(2):71-4. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000359.


Background: Osteoporosis is a common complication in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The change of bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with RA is slow, and little data are known about the long-term change of BMD.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine the frequency of osteoporosis and the long-term change on BMD in a cohort of Chinese patients with RA routinely receiving calcium and vitamin D supplementation.

Methods: A total of 304 consecutive patients with RA were recruited. Bone mineral density measurements of the forearm, lumbar spine, and total hip were performed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and compared with 200 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Risk factors were analyzed by logistic regression models.

Results: The prevalence of osteoporosis at all measured sites in patients with RA was statistically significantly higher than in healthy controls. A total of 107 patients of the cohort had a mean of 4 years of follow-up. More patients with BMD decrease were found without calcium and vitamin D use compared with those who continuously took calcium and vitamin D (64.3% vs 19.8% at the forearm and 28.6% vs 16.1% at the total hip, respectively). Only the use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation was associated with a decreased risk of BMD decrease both at the forearm and at the total hip.

Conclusions: Osteoporosis is common in Chinese patients with RA. Routine use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation decreased the risk of BMD decrease and should be recommended for all patients with RA.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium