Increased Prevalence of Systemic Sclerosis Observed in the United Kingdom

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Researchers estimated the incidence and prevalence of systemic sclerosis in recent years in the United Kingdom.

In recent years, the prevalence of systemic sclerosis (SSc) has increased in the United Kingdom, while incidence has remained constant, according to study results published in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism.

Researchers conducted a population-based cohort study calculating incidence and prevalence rates of SSc in the United Kingdom. In addition, investigators examined the validity of using the nationwide Health Improvement Network database to estimate these measures in a large population. The primary care database contained data from more than 4 million individuals, which revealed trends in population prevalence and incidence rates of SSc over a time span of 12 years.

After statistical analysis, researchers detected 1321 cases of SSc in the UK population, which included 632 and 689 prevalent and incident cases, respectively. Furthermore, they found that prevalence of SSc per 100,000 individuals had risen from 17.13 (95% CI, 14.97-19.51) to 25.38 (95% CI, 23.68-27.16) over the study duration. The investigators also stated that the prevalence of SSc was higher in women.

The primary study limitation was the inability to confirm SSc diagnosis in the population.

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“It is possible that some potential cases…were discarded after profile review owing to unconfirmed diagnosis or localized scleroderma,” the researchers acknowledged.

“We have found that in the UK, prevalence and incidence rates in recent years have been higher than previously reported. This is extremely important for monitoring how the impact of this condition may change over time,” they concluded.

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Garcia Rodriguez LA, Gonzalez-Perez A, Michel A, Saez ME. Contemporary epidemiology of systemic sclerosis: A population-based cohort study in the United Kingdom [published online November 10, 2018]. Semin Arthritis Rheum. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2018.11.002