Introduction: Data reporting mortality in rheumatic diseases vary widely. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis of published data is to provide an accurate overview of the current risk of mortality in rheumatic diseases.
Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies identified by a sensitive search using free text and MeSH synonyms of "mortality" and of "rheumatic diseases", in general and by specific diagnoses. Eligibility criteria were (1) study population with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythemathosus, systemic sclerosis, vasculitis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, dermatomyositis, or spondyloarthritis; (2) outcome of interest mortality, reported as an standardized mortality ratio (SMR), or easily calculated from data reported; and (3) cohorts or longitudinal observational studies. Assessment of risk of bias relied on the New Castle-Ottawa scale for cohorts; only moderate to high quality studies were included. Separate meta-SMRs were calculated for specific diagnoses. Heterogeneity was studied with meta-regression.
Results: A total of 32 studies were included, none in spondyloarthritis or osteoarthritis. The overall pooled SMR was 2.03 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.79-2.29), ranging from 1.36 in psoriatic arthritis to 4.80 in vasculitis. The largest individual overall SMR came from studies on inflammatory diseases, and the specific SMR were very high for infections and pulmonary events. Heterogeneity between studies was large; however, the analysis of such heterogeneity within diseases did not provide any association with the collected variables.
Conclusions: Based on our results and on the good quality of the included studies, we can conclude that rheumatic diseases increase in general the risk of death, and especially inflammatory diseases.
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