Survival in polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis: a study of 398 cases and matched population controls

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001 Nov;40(11):1238-42. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/40.11.1238.


Objective: To estimate survival in polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and temporal arteritis (TA).

Methods: The present study encompassed 338 incident cases who were diagnosed at the Department of Rheumatology during the period 1987-1997 and 60 cases diagnosed in the same period but admitted to hospital for reasons other than PMR or TA. The 398 patients were each assigned four age- and sex-matched controls from the same population and mortality ascertained.

Results: Among the 338 incident cases, there were 69 deaths compared with 360 deaths among their 1352 controls. The mortality was thus 28% lower in cases than in controls [relative risk (RR)=0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.55-0.95]. The 274 incident cases with pure PMR had increased survival compared with controls (RR=0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.95), whilst among the 64 incident TA patients and their controls, no difference in mortality was found (RR=1.2, 95% CI 0.55-2.74). Patients diagnosed at other departments and their controls had the same mortality. In the incident cases, the mean initial dose of prednisolone, the mean maintenance dose of prednisolone, the mean initial erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein and frequency of peripheral arthritis did not differ between survivors and those dying during the observation period.

Conclusion: The study showed increased survival in patients with PMR compared with controls, whilst mortality in TA equalled that of controls. There was no association between use of corticosteroids and level of disease activity and death. The increased survival in PMR might be explained by improved medical surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / mortality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Analysis