Most people living longer except rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

September 29, 2015

The study has found that though the death rates decreased for both men and women from 1965 to 2000, people with rheumatoid arthritis have not experienced the same benefits of that improved survival.

Dr. Sherine E. Gabriel, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota says they found that both women and men who were diagnosed with the condition from 1965 to 2000, died at a percentage of 2.4 and 2.5 percent, while during the same time period, death rates decreased for both men and women who did not have rheumatoid arthritis.

The study authors say there was a worsening of the relative mortality in more recent years, and a widening of the mortality gap between RA patients and the general population throughout time.

They believe this suggests that the radical changes in therapies for rheumatoid arthritis in the last 4 to 5 decades have not had a major impact on mortality and life expectancy for RA patients has not improved.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune inflammatory disease that takes a progressive toll on the heart, kidney and liver as well as the joints.

Dr. Gabriel says as cardiovascular deaths make up at least half of the deaths in subjects with RA, it is possible that the cardiovascular interventions that improved life expectancy in the general population may not have had the same beneficial effects in people with RA.

The study raises concerns about current intervention strategies for the disease and Dr. Gabriel says there is an urgent need for research aimed at fully understanding this alarming trend and finding solutions that will close the mortality gap for people with RA.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 1% of the U.S. population suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

The research is published in the November 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Others involved in the study include Simon Melov and Maithili C. Vantipalli, also of the Buck Institute; Gawain McColl, the lead author, formerly of the Buck Institute, now at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, Australia; along with David W. Killilea of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA and Alan E. Hubbard, University of California, Berkeley. G.M was supported by the American Federation for Aging Research. S.M was supported by the Ellison Medical Research Foundation, and NIH AG24385 and AG18679. G.J.L is supported by NIH AG21069, AG22868, NS050789-01, the Ellison Medical Research Foundation, the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the Herbert Simon Family Medical Foundation. Gene expression studies were facilitated by a Nathan Shock award P30AG025708. All other nematode strains were obtained from the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources.

The paper can be accessed at jbc/cgi/content/abstract/M705028200v1

The Buck Institute is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to extending the healthspan, the healthy years of each individual's life. The National Institute on Aging designated the Buck a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging, one of just five centers in the country. Buck Institute scientists work in an innovative, interdisciplinary setting to understand the mechanisms of aging and to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, cancer, stroke, and arthritis. Collaborative research at the Institute is supported by genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics technology.