Mortality in patients with giant cell arteritis

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Objective. The aim of this study was to examine whether GCA is associated with increased mortality.

Methods. We conducted a nationwide population-based cohort study including all individuals who between 1993 and 2011 were registered in the Danish National Hospital Register and the Danish Pathology Register with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of GCA (n = 1787). Through the Danish Civil Registration System we identified a comparison cohort of 33 953 persons from the background population, individually matched on age and sex. Data on causes of death were obtained from the Danish Registry of Causes of Death. We used Poisson regression to determine mortality rate ratios as estimates of relative risk of death and specific causes of death.

Results. Compared with the general population, the relative risk (RR) of death in patients diagnosed with GCA was 1.17 (95% CI 1.01, 1.36) and 1.22 (95% CI 1.05, 1.41) 0–2 years and >10 years after diagnosis, respectively, whereas we observed no increased mortality during the follow-up period of 2–10 years [RR 0.96 (95% CI 0.88, 1.05)]. The increased mortality during the first 2 years of follow-up was mainly due to diseases of the circulatory system, including aortic aneurisms.

Conclusion. GCA is associated with slightly increased early and late mortality.

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