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  • 1 April 2017 to 30 September 2018
  • Project No: 348
  • Funding round: FR 13

Glucocorticoid induced complications in PMR and GCA

Glucocorticoid medications (commonly known as steroids) are effective treatments that have been used for a long time to treat patients with a wide variety of illnesses, from bowel and rheumatic conditions to chest complaints such as asthma. However, they may cause complications including infections, high blood pressure, bone thinning and weight gain. Some people also develop conditions such as diabetes and cataracts. To date little research evidence exists to explain how often these complications occur or how severe they are in patients taking long term treatment with glucocorticoids. Patients we work with have highlighted how important this information is to them.

Some patients take steroids for a long time (often for longer than 2 years). Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) - a disorder characterised by pain and stiffness in the hips and shoulders, and giant cell arteritis (GCA) - a disorder that causes inflammation of blood vessels in the temples that can cause blindness if not promptly treated with high doses of steroids, both require long term steroids making them ideal for studying the side effects of glucocorticoid treatments.

Our study aims to compare large groups of patients with PMR or GCA (identified from a large database that collects anonymised consultations in general practice) who have been treated with glucocorticoids, with patients who do not have these conditions. This will allow us to:

•    investigate if patients develop complications as a result of long term treatment with glucocorticoid medications, and if they relate to the doses of glucocorticoid they have received and the duration of treatment they have had

•    identify factors that might make developing complications more likely and therefore aid in identifying patients who may need alternative treatments, close monitoring or medications to help prevent potential complications of treatment.

Amount awarded: £44,632

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.

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