The mortality rate for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has significantly declined since 2006, which is likely to be attributed to improved cardiovascular mortality, according to results published in Rheumatology.

Despite these trends, however, RA is still associated with higher mortality rates compared with the average patient population.

The study included data on cases of incident RA (n=21,622) and control patients (n=86,488) from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Participants were followed for up to 5 years.

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The researchers found that the mortality rate for RA cases was 26.90 per 1000 person-years (95% CI, 25.87-27.97) compared with 18.92 per 1000 person-years (95% CI, 18.48-19.36) for controls.

Although the mortality rate in RA cases did not significantly change between 1990 and 2004, it decreased by 7.7% per year between 2005 and 2009. In the control group, the mortality rate decreased 2.2% per year between 1990 and 2009.

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After analysis, the researchers found that RA was associated with a 32% excess risk for mortality (adjusted HR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.26-1.38), but this risk was only 15% after 2006 (adjusted HR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.03-1.29). In addition, they found a statistically nonsignificant trend toward a decline in the risk for death resulting from cardiovascular causes (P =.10).

Disclosure: A.A. has received research grants from AstraZeneca and Oxford Immunotec for studies outside the area and has received speaker bureau fees from Menarini Pharmaceuticals.

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Abhishek A, Nakafero G, Kuo C, et al. Rheumatoid arthritis and excess mortality: down but not out. A primary care cohort study using data from Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Rheumatology. 2018;57:977-981.