An important concept in the management of chronic inflammatory conditios is “treating to target.”1,2 This means that you and your doctor will identify and clearly define a treatment goal at the start of treatment and then choose treatment with this target in mind. Your doctor will continue to regularly monitor your disease activity in order to determine whether the target has been reached. If the target is not reached in a pre-specified period of time, treatment may need to be adjusted. The adjustment may be a change in the dose of current medications, or a switch to a new type of drug.
The target for most patients will be disease remission.3 The disease activity measures discussed above are used to assess progress toward this goal. As patients are working their way toward remission, monitoring of disease activity generally takes place at least every three months. In some cases, more frequent monitoring is necessary. Once the treatment goal has been reached, monitoring may be performed less frequently, but is still done on a regular basis.2
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1 Anderson J, Caplan L, Yazdany J et al. Rheumatoid arthritis disease activity measures: American College of Rheumatology Recommendations for Use in Clinical Practice. Arthritis Care & Research. 2012;64:640-647.
2 Smolen JS, Aletaha D, Bijlsma JWJ et al. Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: recommendations of an international task force. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010;69:631-637.
3 Felson DT, Smolen JS, Wells G et al. American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Provisional Definition of Remission in Rheumatoid Arthritis for Clinical Trials. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2011;63:573-586.