Menopause worsens symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis says large new study

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menopause, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis digest magazineWomen with rheumatoid arthritis have a greater decline in physical function after menopause says a large new study in Menopause.

Experts looked at data from 8,189 women with rheumatoid arthritis, and found that pre-menopausal women experienced a slower physical decline than those who were post-menopausal.

We already know that hormonal life events impact on rheumatoid arthritis in different ways. For example, during pregnancy women have decreased incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, but after childbirth they have an increased incidence of disease development and flare. Women who have early menopause are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who experience normal or late menopause.

The results of the new study show that menopause impacts on the level and rate of functional decline in women with rheumatoid arthritis and is associated with a worsening progression of the effects of the disease.

“Further study is needed as to why women with rheumatoid arthritis are suffering a greater decline in function after menopause,” says lead author, Elizabeth Mollard. “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.”

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