The life expectancy of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has not improved in the last four decades, according to a new US study.
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found that between 1965 and 2005, mortality rates for female and male RA subjects remained relatively constant at 2.4 and 2.5 per 100 person-years compared to significant decreases in the mortality rate of the general population.
Overall mortality fell from one per 100 person-years to 0.2 for women and decreased from 1.2 to 0.3 for men.
Lead author Dr Sherine Gabriel said: "We found no evidence indicating that RA subjects experienced improvements in survival over the last four to five decades.
"In fact, RA subjects did not even experience the same improvements in survival as their peers without arthritis, resulting in a worsening of the relative mortality in more recent years, and a widening of the mortality gap between RA subjects and the general population throughout time."
Dr Gabriel said further study was urgently needed, postulating that treatments for cardiovascular disease, which have improved life expectancy in the general population, may not have had the same beneficial effects for those with RA.
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