Mortality causes and trends associated with giant cell arteritis: analysis of the French national death certificate database (1980-2011)

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2018 Jun 1;57(6):1047-1055. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/key028.


Objectives: Comprehensive analyses of cause-specific death patterns in GCA are sparse. We studied the patterns and time trends in GCA-related mortality using a large death certificate database.

Methods: We obtained multiple-cause-of-death data from the French national death certificate database for 1980-2011. GCA-associated deaths were defined as decedents ⩾55 years old with GCA listed as an underlying or non-underlying cause of death. Time trends of death rates were analysed and the mean age at death with GCA and in the general population ⩾55 years old were calculated. Standardized mortality odds ratios (SMORs) were calculated for 17 selected causes of death (based on 2000-11 data).

Results: The analyses pertained to approximately 15 000 death certificates listing GCA (including approximately 6300 for 2000-11). Annual standardized death rates for GCA increased to a peak in 1997 and then decreased (Spearman's correlation test, both P < 0.0001). Mean age at death was higher for GCA than for general population decedents (Student's t-test, P < 0.0001). GCA deaths were frequently or strongly associated with aortic aneurysm and dissection (1.85% of death certificates, SMOR: 3.09, 95% CI: 2.48, 3.82), hypertensive disease (20.78%, SMOR: 2.22, 95% CI: 1.97, 2.50), diabetes mellitus (11.27%, SMOR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.72, 2.23), certain infectious and parasitic diseases (12.12%, SMOR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.55, 2.00) and ischaemic heart disease (16.54%, SMOR: 1.45, 95% CI: 1.35, 1.64).

Conclusion: GCA is associated with increased risk of dying from large-vessel disease, other cardiovascular diseases and potentially treatment-related co-morbidities. These findings help provide better insights into the outcomes of GCA.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Comorbidity / trends
  • Databases, Factual
  • Death Certificates*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Registries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends