Women are not only more predisposed to RA, the disease may also be more aggressive compared to men

Dr Björn Svensson, Rheumatology, University of Lund, Sweden, will today present a study which shows significant differences in the remission rates between women and men diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Remission means a condition with little or no evidence of ongoing disease and as there is no cure to rheumatoid arthritis, this is currently the treatment goal of the disease. Dr Svensson and his research team analyzed the frequencies and predictors of remission in a large patient group observed for five years in a structured follow-up programme. During the period September 1995 to September 1999, 689 patients were included in a multicentre follow-up programme for patients with recent onset RA (disease duration < 1 year). The frequency of remission was studied after 2 and 5 years respectively.

In patients overall, 37.9% were in remission after the 2-year follow-up, while 38.5% were in remission after 5 years. However, only 32% and 31% of the women were in remission at 2 and 5 years respectively, versus 49% and 52% of the men.

Importantly, the female group in the study did not have explicitly different disease activity at treatment start compared to the male group. The results could not be explained by different treatment approaches as DMARDs and glucocorticoids were given similarly and as early to women as to men. Nor did patients age influence since the younger women and men were in remission as often as the older.

The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown, but are predicted to be rather complex. However some of the factors that might play a role in the development of the disease are infections, genetics and gender, as shown in this study.

"The study showed that the disease course of the women examined was considerably worse than for the men. The reason for this gender discrepancy found in this study are at present unclear and will need further investigations", said Dr Svensson. "However, the data seems solid enough to call for reinforced attention in the frequency and quality of follow-up in order to achieve an optimal suppression of the inflammatory process in all patients, regardless of gender", he added.


For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress press office on:

Email: [email protected]

Jim Baxter - Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7900 605652
Jo Spadaccino - Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7773 271930
Mia Gannedahl - Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7331 2325

Abstract number: OP0098


  • The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organization which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.
  • The aims of EULAR are to reduce the burden of rheumatic diseases on the individual and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with musculoskeletal diseases by the governing bodies in Europe.
  • Diseases of bones and joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cause disability in 4 - 5 % of the adult population and are predicted to rise as people live longer.
  • As new treatments emerge and cellular mechanisms are discovered, the 7th Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Amsterdam (EULAR 2006) brings together more than 10,000 experts - scientists, clinicians, healthcare workers, pharmaceutical companies and patients - to share their knowledge in a global endeavour to challenge the pain and disability caused by musculo-skeletal disorders.
  • To find out more information about the activities of EULAR, visit: www.eular.org.

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