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Bone Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis Connection Complex

Association may be stronger in some subgroups of postmenopausal rheumatoid arthritis patients

FRIDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- In postmenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis, hip bone mineral density appears to be associated with focal erosions, but the relationship is not significant after controlling for other variables. However, the relationship appears to be stronger in certain subgroups of patients, according to a study published in the June issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Daniel H. Solomon, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues studied 163 postmenopausal rheumatoid arthritis patients. Nearly all of the patients were treated with a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, but none of them were treated with an osteoporosis drug.

The researchers found that total hip bone mineral density, but not lumbar spine bone mineral density, was associated with erosion scores. After multivariate adjustment, they found that hip bone mineral density was not significantly associated with erosions. However, they observed that the relationship was stronger in women with a younger age, shorter disease duration, higher body mass index, and lower cumulative oral glucocorticoid use.

"Our findings suggest that the relationship between focal erosions and generalized osteoporosis is complicated and modified by many aspects of rheumatoid arthritis and other factors," the authors write. "The fact that the relationship was stronger among patients with a shorter disease duration suggests that, with longer disease duration, other variables dilute the relationship between focal erosions and total hip bone mineral density."

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