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More than half of osteoarthritis patients attended by primary care physicians are at high risk of suffering gastrointestinal or cardiovascular problems

18 May 2012

Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease-it can be treated only during its acute phase. Familial physicians attending the Úbeda symposium defended the efficacy and security of using SYSADOAs as the standard treatment of chronic osteoarthritis.

According to data released by the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, 16.6% of the Andalusian population suffer from knee, hand or spinal osteoarthritis. This means that more than 1,200,000 people suffer from pain and loss of mobility which impair its quality of life. As explained by Dr. Sergio Giménez, familial physician and co-ordinator of the Locomotor Apparatus Workgroup of the SEMERGEN, “Almost all osteoarthritis patients are treated by primary care physicians-therefore, we are the ones who know them better”. To be precise, 35% of all consultations to primary care are caused by osteoarthritis.

According to Dr. Gimenez, when managing osteoarthrosis patients we must take into account that “more than half of them risk suffering gastrointestinal or cardiovascular problems. Despite of that, there is a therapeutic inertia, the “tradition” to prescribe paracetamol or AINEs, without bearing in mind that these drugs can only be used during the acute phases of the disease-they cannot be regularly administered because of its secondary effects”.

Dr. Maribel Lucena, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, added that “we must take into account drugs known as SYSADOAs, like for instance chondroitin sulfate, specifically designed for the treatment of chronic osteoarthritis and that have a high security and efficacy profile”. According to Dr. Lucena, these drugs improve pain as well as quality of life and functional capacity, thus leading to a reduction in the overall cost of the disease for the society.

In Dr. Giménez’s opinion, “SYSADOAs are, as of today, the standard treatment for osteoarthritis, especially during the early stage of that disease in patients at high risk of cardiovascular or gastrointestinal problems. Moreover, these drugs are secure-no toxic effects have been reported since 1982”. He also explained that SYSADOAs have symptomatic and anti inflammatory effects, and that they probably modify the course of the disease. He concluded by saying that “Our clinical practice will give us the final answer to the question whether these drugs are useful for the treatment of our patients. Evidence-based medicine is out there, but we will see the definitive results during the day-by-day treatment of our patients”.

These are the conclusions of the symposium “Arthrosis: a disease affecting everyone” that it is being held today at Úbeda, within the 7th Andalusian Congress of Primary Care Physicians, SEMERGEN. The attendants discussed also the new SEMERGEN osteoarthritis guidelines, the reference paper for familial physicians that deals, in a easy but rigorous way, with all the latest updates in osteoarthritis, paying special attention to everything related to etiopathogeny and treatment of that disease.