The main causes of death among people with rheumatoid arthritis have been identified by recent research.
The study included 87,114 rheumatoid arthritis patients in Ontario and 348,456 age/sex/area-matched general population comparators from 2000 to 2013. During follow-up, 14 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients and 9 percent of individuals in the general population died.
While the causes of death were similar in the two groups, most frequently being circulatory system diseases, cancer, and respiratory conditions (including respiratory infections), patients with rheumatoid arthritis were dying at a younger age. The potential life years lost before the age of 75 years among rheumatoid arthritis patients was approximately double that among those in the general population.
"One in three deaths was attributed to heart disease. This finding underscores the importance of increased efforts to prevent heart disease and its progression, and patients and physicians should be thinking about this early in the disease course, and earlier in the patient's life. The heightened risk associated with respiratory diseases and respiratory infections should also be emphasized."