Importance: Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory granulomatous disease of unknown cause that affects an estimated 2 to 160 people per 100 000 worldwide and can involve virtually any organ. Approximately 10% to 30% of patients with sarcoidosis develop progressive pulmonary disease.
Observation: Among patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis, the rate of spontaneous remission without serious sequelae ranges from 10% to 82%. However, lung disease progression occurs in more than 10% of patients and can result in fibrocystic architectural distortion of the lung, which is associated with a mortality rate of 12% to 18% within 5 years. Overall, the mortality rate for sarcoidosis is approximately 7% within a 5-year follow-up period. Worldwide, more than 60% of deaths from sarcoidosis are due to pulmonary involvement; however, more than 70% of deaths from sarcoidosis are due to cardiac involvement in Japan. Up to 70% of patients with advanced pulmonary sarcoidosis develop precapillary pulmonary hypertension, which is associated with a 5-year mortality rate of approximately 40%. Patients with sarcoidosis and precapillary pulmonary hypertension should be treated with therapies such as phosphodiesterase inhibitors and prostacyclin analogues. Although optimal doses of oral glucocorticoids for pulmonary sarcoidosis are unknown, oral prednisone typically starting at a dose of 20 mg/d to 40 mg/d for 2 to 6 weeks is recommended for patients who are symptomatic (cough, dyspnea, and chest pain) and have parenchymal infiltrates and abnormal pulmonary function test results. Oral glucocorticoids can be tapered over 6 to 18 months if symptoms, pulmonary function test results, and radiographs improve. Prolonged use of oral glucocorticoids may be required to control symptoms and stabilize disease. Patients without adequate improvement while receiving a dose of prednisone of 10 mg/d or greater or those with adverse effects due to glucocorticoids may be prescribed immunosuppressive agents, such as methotrexate, azathioprine, or an anti-tumor necrosis factor medication, either alone or with glucocorticoids combined with appropriate microbial prophylaxis for Pneumocystis jiroveci and herpes zoster. Effective treatments are not available for advanced fibrocystic pulmonary disease.
Conclusions and relevance: Sarcoidosis has a mortality rate of approximately 7% within a 5-year follow-up period. More than 10% of patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis develop progressive disease and more than 60% of deaths are due to advanced pulmonary sarcoidosis. Oral glucocorticoids with or without another immunosuppressive agent are the first-line therapy for symptomatic patients with abnormal pulmonary function test results and lung infiltrates. Patients with sarcoidosis and precapillary pulmonary hypertension should be treated with therapies such as phosphodiesterase inhibitors and prostacyclin analogues.