Women with rheumatoid arthritis have significantly less chance of remission than men, finds research published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The authors base their findings on almost 700 adults who had been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Their average age was 58, and they had had their disease for an average of six months. Two thirds of study participants were women, and they tended to be younger than the men.
After two years, the disease had gone into remission in just under four out of 10 study participants. After five years, the proportion in remission was similar, at 38.5%. But only around one in five were in remission at both time points.
Gender was a significant factor in the progress of the disease. At two years, just under a third of the women (32%) were in remission compared with almost half of the men (48%).
By five years, the gap had widened, with just under 31% of women in remission compared with 52% of the men.
Men were more than twice as likely to be in remission as women at both time points.
Women did not have more severe disease than the men initially, but it quickly became more severe and progressed more rapidly than it did among the men.
Differences in how long a person had had the disease, their age, or their drug treatment could not explain the discrepancy in remission rate, say the authors.