Blood Test For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is mainly diagnosed from symptoms. But to assure its presence blood tests need to be done. Blood test for rheumatoid arthritis support the diagnosis by looking for an antibody named as rheumatoid factor or RF. About 80% of rheumatoid arthritis patients are positive for the blood test for rheumatoid factor; however it may take many years to become positive for the test. The occurrence of rheumatoid factor, together with bone damage seen on the X-rays, suggests a higher chance of ongoing joint damage. Strangely people not suffering from the disease may be positive for the RF blood test.

Of late a new blood test has been developed which finds out another set of antibodies known as CCP antibodies (cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies). About sixty percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients are positive for this test. They include RF negative patients too. The presence of these antibodies marks a more severe level of the ailment.

Some other common tests helping to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis are:

ESR or erythrocyte sedimentation rate: This test reveals the existence of inflammation in the body and advancement of the disease. This test is done by observing how rapidly the RBCs or erythrocytes of patient fall on the bottom of the test tube filled with his or her blood. The faster their sedimentation, the higher is the degree of inflammation.

CRP or C-reactive protein test: This test too depicts the presence of inflammation and shows how far the disease has advanced. The higher the level of C-reactive protein, the higher is the degree of inflammation. But obesity too can increase the level of C-reactive protein and so the doctor has to consider the BMI of the patient too and then decide whether there is a possibility of occurrence of RA.

FBC or full blood count: This is for checking anemia and about 60% of rheumatoid arthritis patients suffer from anemia too.

But there is something still latest and hopeful. According to new studies, risen number of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines and associated factors in the blood are also indicative of early stage of rheumatoid arthritis. This will hopefully give rise to a new blood test for rheumatoid arthritis, as per the researchers, which will diagnose the mysterious disease much before its development.

Researchers have discovered that the levels of some specific cytokines and their associated factors in the blood amplify remarkably much prior to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and its symptoms.

Blood Test For Rheumatoid Arthritis

As per a researcher Solbritt Rantapää-Dahlqvist, MD, of University Hospital in Umea, Sweden, the new findings offer an opportunity for predicting the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis much before and thus preventing the progression of the disease.

As such, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease which is difficult to find out in the early stage because of the subtle symptoms, like painful, tender and stiff joints in the early morning. These symptoms are seen in other conditions too like lupus, fibromyalgia and arthritis and therefore it is very difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis in its early stages, which can otherwise be helpful in checking its advancement.

Though the disease is not believed to be fully curable, if it is diagnosed at an early stage the patient can lead a more active life and may avoid the damage to the joints which can result in disability. Therefore the new blood test for rheumatoid arthritis is certainly a ray of hope for sufferers of this disease.