Comparison of elderly- and young-onset rheumatoid arthritis in an Asian cohort

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To describe the demographic characteristics, clinical features, functional status and quality of life of elderly-onset (EORA) and young-onset (YORA) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in an Asian cohort.


We studied all RA patients in our prospective disease registry, utilizing baseline data. EORA was defined as disease onset at 60 years or older. We collected data from January 2001 to December 2012.


There were 1206 patients in our cohort, of which 178 (14.8%) had EORA, with a mean age of onset of 66.7 ± 5.6 years. There were more males in the EORA than YORA group (23.0% vs. 14.7%, P = 0.005). EORA patients were diagnosed sooner after symptom onset and had a higher number of comorbidities (median 2 [inter-quartile range 1–3] vs. 1 (0–2), P < 0.001). They were less likely to be rheumatoid factor positive, had higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate values and lower hemoglobin concentrations. There was no significant difference in joint counts, Disease Activity Score of 28 joints activity score and prevalence of radiographic erosions. Though EORA patients had worse Health Assessment Questionnaire scores and poorer functional status than YORA ones, they had lower pain scores and higher scores in the general health and mental component summary of the Short Form-36. EORA patients received significantly lower numbers of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.


EORA and YORA patients had different demographic characteristics. Although they had similar disease activities, EORA patients received less intensive treatment. EORA patients had a higher number of RA-related co-morbidities and poorer physical functioning but they coped better emotionally and mentally.

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