According to a study published online on January 9, 2013, by Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients is more affected by disease duration than age of onset.
Researchers of the study compared the symptoms and treatment of patients with young-onset RA with those of patients with lateonset RA from the national database of the German Collaborative Arthritis Centres from 2007 to 2009. The researchers identified 9541 patients and split them into 2 groups: patients who were 65 years and younger at diagnosis (young onset) and patients who were older than 65 years at diagnosis (late onset). The researchers performed 2 separate matched-pair tests to analyze the impact of current age and the impact of age at diagnosis.
At the same age, patients diagnosed at 65 years and younger had higher disease activity, less functional ability, and were less frequently in remission when compared with patients who were diagnosed when older than 65 years. Young-onset patients also had higher rates of RA-related comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, chronic renal disease, and osteoporosis.
In addition, lateonset patients took disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) at lower rates than their young-onset counterparts. Even though this population was in remission more frequently, the researchers suggest that a deficit in treatment may exist for older patients with respect to DMARDs.