Neurological manifestations of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are usually uncommon. However, a number of recent studies have reported that the burden of cognitive impairment in RA could be significant. We sought to explore the prevalence and clinical predictors of cognitive impairment in persons with RA.
This is a cross-sectional case-control study with patients with RA. Different trained and blinded interviewers registered clinical-epidemiological data and applied a standardized neurological assessment for each subject of the study. At baseline, functional limitations were characterized using the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ). Cognitive impairment was evaluated with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) while neuropsychiatric symptoms were investigated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Using a proper statistical analysis, we compared the neurological outcomes between case and controls and we determined the clinical predictors of cognitive decline.
A total of 210 patients with RA and 70 healthy controls were included in our study. More than two thirds of our patients were classified as cognitively impaired. The mean MMSE and MoCA scores were significantly lower in RA subjects compared to the control group (p < 0.001). Neuropshychiatric impairment was more prevalent in RA patients (59.5%) than in controls (17.1%) as well (p < 0.001). Greater functional limitations were correlated with worse MMSE, MoCA and HADS scores (p < 0.001).
The findings of this study suggest that there is evidence of cognitive impairment in adults with RA.