[Is the treatment response in elderly patients with rheumatoid arthritis diminished? Results of a prospective study over 3 months]

Z Rheumatol. 2009 Feb;68(1):69-74. doi: 10.1007/s00393-008-0413-3.
[Article in German]


Background: With increasing age DMARD and TNF-alpha-Inhibitors are less frequently used. The goal of this work was to investigate whether the therapeutic response in elderly patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is diminished.

Methods: In total, 192 patients admitted to hospital because of active RA were prospectively studied. The improvements in disease activity (RADAI), pain and function (FFbH) three months after release were measured and compared between two age groups.

Results: Patients <65 and > or =65 years of age (n=104 and 88, mean age of 52+/-10 and 72+/-5.6 years, respectively) showed comparable improvements of disease activity and pain in the complete group as well as in those who received newly administered DMARD or TNF-alpha-inhibitors (71.2% and 62.6%, respectively, for the two groups). A significant difference was demonstrated for the change in function: While patients <65 years of age in the mean had a moderate improvement of the FFbH, this could not be shown for the older patients (p=0.04). A close correlation of the improvements of RADAI and FFbH could be shown for the younger patients only.

Conclusions: DMARD or TNF-alpha-inhibitors improve disease activity and pain in elderly patients with RA no less than in younger patients. However, in contrast to the younger patients, the older patients profit less in terms of functional impairment.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents