Objective: To assess the mortality and causes of death in a cross-sectional population-based study of 1042 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: In 1988, 604 RA patients [470 females (F), 134 males (M)] and 457 age- and sex-matched controls (352 F, 105 M) were examined prospectively (participants) and 438 (183 F, 81 M) non-participant RA patients retrospectively. In 1999, vital status and causes of death were determined. Mortality in the total RA population was compared to that in the general population, and that among participant RA patients to their matched controls.
Results: A total of 384 (37%) RA patients and 71 (16%) controls died. RA patients had increased mortality compared to the general population (standardized mortality ratios SMR 2.64) or controls (1.71). This was observed in both sexes. Over 40% of deaths in all groups were due to cardiovascular diseases. RA patients were at increased risk of dying of urogenital, gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, infections, and cancers when compared to the general population or controls.
Conclusions: Our results show that a cross-sectional cohort of RA patients had an increased risk of death from various causes.