Hepatitis took decades off expected life span

Ly KN. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;58:40-49.

  • January 3, 2014

Hepatitis was listed as a cause of death for more than 18,000 people in 2010 in the United States, and the deaths occurred 22 to 23 years earlier than in patients not listing such infections as a cause of death, a study determined.

“Hepatitis C alone was identified as a cause of nearly 90% of these [18,473] deaths; the majority of those occurred in persons aged 45–64 years,” the researchers wrote. “Our study provides evidence that strengthens this national [birth-cohort screening] recommendation.”

The cross-sectional study analyzed 2010 death records of 2.4 million people to calculate mortality rates for those with and without hepatitis A, B and C.

Results listed HAV as an underlying cause of 30 deaths and as any cause of 96 deaths. HBV was listed as an underlying cause of 589 deaths and any cause of 1,875 deaths. HCV was responsible as an underlying cause of 6,857 deaths and as any cause of 17,113 deaths.

In patients who died with HCV and HBV, the most frequently listed categories were fibrosis, cirrhosis and other liver diseases.

Among HBV and HCV decedents, the highest mortality rates were among those aged 55 to 64 years. Among those without hepatitis, the greatest mortality rates were among those aged older than 75 years and were attributed mostly to heart disease, cardiac arrest, organic mental disorders, hypertension and congestive heart failure.

“Because these data demonstrated that death occurred 22–23 years earlier among persons with an HBV- or HCV-related death, prevention efforts should be expanded to further (1) promote hepatitis A and B vaccination among recommended target groups, (2) increase hepatitis B and C screening to get more people into care and earlier treatment and (3) treat alcohol- and drug-related disorders,” the investigators concluded.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.