Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) significantly increases the risk of death in older women, according to the Iowa Women?s Health Study, a research project began in 1986. The study included more than 31,000 women 55 to 69 years of age.
None of the women had RA at the start of the research, published in the October issue of Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. But 11 years later, 158 patients had RA, and 13 years into the study, 30 patients had died.
Overall, women with RA were approximately 60% more likely to die than were women of comparable age, after excluding risk factors such as smoking and being overweight.