Research presented at the 2014 American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting indicates that women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at an increased risk of all cause mortality compared to women without the condition.

According to an HCPLive report, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School collected data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which incorporated data from 121,700 women from 1976 to 2012. The research team identified 964 incident RA cases and 28,808 deaths within the study in addition to 26 years of follow-up data.

The results of the study showed 307 deaths among women with RA, with 26% from cancer, 23% from cardiovascular disease, and 16% from respiratory causes. Women without RA in the original study died from the following causes: 22% from cardiovascular disease, 7% from respiratory causes, and 41% from cancer. The researchers concluded that women with RA had a 40% increased mortality from all causes once the data was adjusted for mortality risk factors.

The researchers believed this may have been influenced by cardiovascular and respiratory causes; however, cancer did not appear to play a role. The HCPLive news report notes that the authors highlighted the fact that women with seropositive RA had significantly 51% higher risk of death than compared to their non-RA counterparts.

Women with seropositive RA had almost three times the mortality risk in respiratory causes, and it appeared that every 5 years of having RA would increase the women’s mortality by 11% compared to women without the disease.

Jeffrey Sparks, MD, explains, “We aimed to study deaths and causes of death in a cohort in which women have been followed very closely before and after development of RA and directly compared to women without RA.” Sparks adds, “All the participants in this study had repeated assessment of behavioral factors. and other mortality risk factors, enabling us to study the independent effect of having RA on the risk of death.”

Sparks says, “This study highlights the clinical necessity of recognizing and addressing complications of RA, such as respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease, which associated with early mortality.”

Source: HCPLive