Rheumatoid arthritis found to worsen during and after menopause, study says

A new study published in Rheumatology identified a deteriorated physical functioning among post-menopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Researchers examined 8,189 women with rheumatoid arthritis and observed an increased physical decline in post-menopausal women, compared to pre-menopausal women.

Physical functioning is considered an important study aspect in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, since it affects their quality of life. Women with rheumatoid arthritis are subjected to a threefold increased risk of the disease along with increased severity and disability than men. However, the sex-based differences in the condition are still unclear.

Former studies have identified that women with rheumatoid arthritis suffer changes in their disease surrounding reproductive and hormonal life events like childbirth.

During pregnancy, women have decreased incidences of rheumatoid arthritis; however, they are more likely to develop the disease and flare during the post-partum period. Likewise, women who encounter early menopause are more prone to risks of rheumatoid arthritis, compared to those with normal or late menopause.

Based on these correlations between reproductive or hormonal life events and rheumatoid arthritis in women, scientists carried out an observational study to explore the link between menopause and physical functioning in women with the disease.

Further study is needed as to why women with rheumatoid arthritis are suffering a greater decline in function after menopause. Not only is this decline causing suffering for women, it is costly to both individuals and the healthcare system as a whole.

Research is specifically needed on the mechanism connecting these variables with the eventual goal of identifying interventions that can maintain or improve function in postmenopausal women with rheumatoid arthritis."

Dr. Elizabeth Mollard, University of Nebraska medical centre

The study findings showed a significant impact of menopause on the level and rate of functional decline in women with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the results indicted the association of menopause with a worsening progression of the effects of the disease.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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