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Life Expectancy for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis Has Not Improved in Four Decades

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By Mayo Clinic News Release • www.ProHealth.com • April 12, 2000


SUMMARY: Mayo Clinic Researchers studied people with rheumatoid arthritis in Olmsted County between 1955 and 1985. They found that while life expectancy improved for the population in that period, it did not change for people with rheumatoid arthritis. People with this disease in Olmsted County have a 38 percent greater risk of death than someone without rheumatoid arthritis.

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have not shared in the general improvement in life expectancy over the last four decades, a Mayo Clinic study reports. Researchers examined the medical records of all patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Olmsted County (where Mayo Clinic is located) between 1955 and 1985. They found that while life expectancy improved for the population in that period, it did not change for people with rheumatoid arthritis. People with this disease in Olmsted County have a 38 percent greater risk of death than someone without rheumatoid arthritis, they found. For women, the risk was even higher -- 55 percent. In other words, a 50-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis can expect four fewer years of life than a 50-year-old woman without the disease.
"Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be functioning better than in the past," says Sherine Gabriel, M.D., a rheumatologist and leader of the study. "But they are not living longer. We need to better understand why that is." The study results were published in a recent issue of The Journal of Rheumatology.
Source: Mayo Clinic



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