Objectives: To obtain information on the shortening of the life span and the causes of excess death in a population-based series of subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: The study included all 1666 subjects who had died in Finland in 1989 and were entitled under the nationwide sickness insurance scheme to receive specially reimbursed medication for RA. Demographic data on the Finnish population and sickness insurance statistics were used as the basis for computations.
Results: The life span in subjects with RA was shortened by 15-20% from the date of onset of illness. The determinants of excess mortality could be studied in females. About 40% of the excess deaths were due to cardiovascular causes, 30% to infections, 15% to amyloidosis, and the remaining 15% to diverse causes.
Conclusion: This data provides an enlightened basis for understanding mortality associated with RA.