Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a shortened life expectancy because of an increased risk to lung and hematopoi-etic malignancies, circulatory disorders, and cerebrovascular causes, according to the results of a 20-year study. Researchers in England and Scotland conducted a large population-based cohort study to determine specific mortality incidence in >40,000 people with RA and other rheumatic conditions. The participants were followed for 20 years following their initial hospital admission.
The results showed that RA patients had the greatest number of deaths, and those with systemic sclerosis had the highest risk of death. Death was more prevalent in the first 5 years after hospitalization. For RA patients, the greatest risk was seen in diseases associated with the musculoskeletal system and connective tissues?a 60-fold increased risk in men and a 28-fold increase in women.