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Clin Rheumatol. 2008 Jun;27(6):739-42. Epub 2007 Nov 1.

Rheumatoid arthritis in the United Arab Emirates.

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Dubai Bone & Joint Center LLC, Level 50, Emirates Towers, P.O. Box 118855, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


Studies have shown that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the Middle East have delayed diagnosis and low disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) utilization. We describe the characteristics and treatments of consecutive RA patients presenting to a new musculoskeletal clinic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Demographic and clinical data were collected over a 10-month period at the first visit to our clinic for patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for RA. A total of 100 patients were seen: (average +/- SD) age 42.2 +/- 12.3 years; female 87%; Arabs 38%, Indian 36%, Caucasian and others 26%; 73% rheumatoid-factor positive; years since diagnosis: 3.9 +/- 5.7; lag time between symptom onset to diagnosis 1.2 +/- 1.3 years and lag time to first DMARD was 1.6 +/- 2.0 years. Mean tender joint count was 8.9 +/- 7.9, mean swollen joint count 9.0 +/- 7.6, mean patient's global assessment of disease activity 57.4 +/- 25.0 mm, mean ESR 33 +/- 25 mm/h, mean DAS28 5.2 +/- 1.6, physician global assessment 55.0 +/- 23.8. Only 43% were on DMARDs (25% MTX, 5% TNF blockers). Among the patients who were not on DMARD, only 28.1% had disease duration less than 1 year (p = <0.01). Erosions were present in 55.2% of patients with available X-rays, and deformities in 26% of patients. There were no racial differences in disease characteristics. The UAE has a unique population with many races residing in the country. Among the first 100 consecutive patients seen at our clinic, there were no significant differences in disease characteristics with the majority of the patients having very active disease, delayed diagnosis, and not being treated with DMARDs.

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