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Rheumatoid Arthritis among Older Adults

Arthur Bookman, MD, FRCPC, Division of Rheumatology, Toronto Western Hospital/University Health Network, Toronto, ON.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in older adults has a lower female-to-male ratio, and presents as either a rheumatoid factor positive typical case of RA, or an acute seronegative syndrome consisting of myalgia, fever, weight loss, and fatigue. Differentiating among systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyalgia rheumatica, and rheumatoid arthritis may initially be very difficult in older patients. Rheumatoid arthritis beginning in younger people can lead to earlier death, accelerated atherosclerosis, complicated polypharmaceutical management, debilitating deformity, osteoporosis, and more frequent infection as these patients enter their geriatric years.
Key words: rheumatoid arthritis, geriatrics, polypharmacy, chronic disease, inflammatory arthritis.