Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune, human leucocyte antigen, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides, extra articular manifestations, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
AbstractRheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that does not only affect the small joints, but also presents with extra-articular manifestations e.g. anaemia, cardiovascular diseases, depression etc., leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Pharmacists, as part of the healthcare team, should take cognisance of this chronic, debilitating condition and keep up to date with the latest treatment strategies. Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is imperative and treatment should be individualised and appropriate as it improves the prognosis. The 2013 South African algorithm for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis recommends the use of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medicine as first-line therapy. The choice of treatment depends on the side-effect profile, patient preference for route of administration, disease characteristics, and cost. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but articular damage can be prevented or at least delayed.
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