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Rheumatoid Arthritis More Stubborn in Women

Remission is much less likely than in male patients, study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 7, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Women with rheumatoid arthritis are much less likely than men to experience remission, according to a study published online in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Swedish researchers tracked nearly 700 adults, average age 58, who had had rheumatoid arthritis for about six months at the start of the study. Two-thirds of the patients were women.

At two years, rheumatoid arthritis was in remission in 40 percent of the patients. At five years, 38.5 percent of the patients were in remission. However, only 20 percent were in remission at both two and five years.

At two years, 48 percent of men and 32 percent of women were in remission. At five years, 52 percent of men and 31 percent of women were in remission. At both time points, men were more than twice as likely as women to be in remission, the study said.

Initially, the women in the study did not have more severe rheumatoid arthritis than men. However, the disease quickly became more severe and progressed more rapidly in the women than in the men, according to the research team from University Hospital Lund.

The discrepancy in female/male remission rates could not be explained by age, drug treatment, or how long a patient had rheumatoid arthritis, the study authors said.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about rheumatoid arthritis.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Dec. 7, 2006
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