From 1987 to 2011, deaths with rheumatoid arthritis as an underlying cause declined by 9.2%, according to an WHO database analysis of 31 countries in North America, Europe and Australia.
“It has been suggested that changes in the management of [rheumatoid arthritis] RA toward early and aggressive treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and subsequent biologic therapies has led to better health status and lower mortality for most people with RA over time,” Aliasghar A. Kiadaliri, PhD, at Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues wrote. “In addition, it has been suggested that RA may be becoming a milder disease in general. Furthermore, large reductions in prevalence of smoking in people with RA over recent decades, improvements in diagnosis, increased public awareness of RA and general improvements in cardiovascular mortality might also partially explain the observed declining trend in our study.”
Aliasghar A. Kiadaliri
Investigators found a 9.2% reduction in RA-related deaths from 9,281 in 1987 to 8,428 in 2011. The 3-year mean age-standardized RA mortality rate declined by 48.2% from 1987 to 2011, with increases found only in Israel, Croatia and Slovenia. The between-country disparity also dropped from 16 deaths per million person-years to 1.8 deaths in the study period.
From 1987 to 2011, 219,189 people died with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which represented 22.2% of musculoskeletal disorder deaths and 0.1% of all deaths. Investigators also found the proportion of RA-related deaths of musculoskeletal deaths dropped from 30% to 17.7% in the study period.
“Although increased survival with rheumatoid arthritis is great news, it might lead to a greater share of our aging population having the disease and in need of health services,” Kiadaliri said in a press release. “This needs to be accounted for in health care planning.” – by Will A. Offit
The researchers report they received support by the Swedish Research Council, the Crafoord Foundation, the Greta and Johan Kocks Foundation and the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University, as well as Governmental Funding of Clinical Research within National Health Service and Region Skåne.