Improved survival rates in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over the past decade can be attributed to improved management of RA and associated comorbidities, according to research published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

Yuqing Zhang, MD, DSc, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues, conducted a population-based cohort study of patients with RA to examine mortality trends in the past decade, as new drugs and management options have been developed to treat RA.

High Yield Data Summary

  • All-cause mortality due to RA in the UK has improved to a greater degree than the background improvement of the general population from 1999 to 2014

Patients with RA diagnosed between 1999 and 2006 had a considerably higher mortality rate than their comparison cohort, as compared with a moderate difference in patients with RA diagnosed between 2007 and 2014.


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The study compared data from 10 126 patients with incident RA and 50 546 matched infidivudals without RA. During the follow-up period, 936 and 2968 individuals died in the RA and non-RA cohorts, respectively, and the respective median age at death was 77 and 78.4 years.

Summary and Clinical Applicability

Absolute mortality rates between those diagnosed between 1999 and 2006 and 2007 and 2014 were 9.5 deaths per 1000 person-years and 3.1 deaths per 1000 person-years, respectively.

“This general population-based cohort study indicates that the survival of patients with RA has improved over the past decade to a greater degree than in the general population,” concluded Dr Zhang. Improved management of RA and its associated comorbidities over recent years may be providing a survival benefit.

Limitations and Disclosures

Study limitations include uncertainty surrounding diagnoistic accuracy. Study data did not allow for the assessment of the natural history of RA presentation, suggesting that future studies on this topic may be beneficial.

No researchers indicated any conflicts of interest or disclosures. 

Reference

Zhang Y, Lu N, Peloquin C, et al. Improved survival in rheumatoid arthritis: a general population-based cohort study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2016;0:1-6; doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-209058