RA Survival Rates Better

A Quick Summary

Advances in drug development for rheumatoid arthritis over the past 15 years have improved survival rates for patients, researchers say. The study appears in the June 23, 2016, Annuals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

A few studies exist, researchers said, looking into how treatments impacted mortality up to 2004. However, there are none that look at later dates.

In a population-based cohort study, researchers reviewed how standard rheumatoid arthritis treatments impacted patients with this condition and compared the results to similar patients who did not have rheumatoid arthritis. They were also interested in whether other co-morbidities impacted survival.

Led by Yuqing Zhang, M.D., professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine, investigators determined rheumatoid arthritis patients treated after the advent of new drugs and management strategies had a longer survival rate than those treated earlier. The study, which looked at patients treated from 1999 to 2014, also revealed co-morbidities did not significantly impact life span. 

According to study results, more patients from the early cohort (not using biologics) died – and died younger – than patients from the later cohort (using methotrexate and biologics).

Not only does this data indicate that early and effective interventions for rheumatoid arthritis help prevent permanent damage, but it also demonstrates that treat-to-target strategies have been utilized more frequently. When taken together, all the findings point to a reduction in rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and improved life longevity.