Rheumatoid Arthritis and Accelerated Aging

New Findings Explain Shorter Life Expectancies in People with RA

Assisting an Aged PersonPeople with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) seem to age faster than those who don't have the disease, and new study findings from Mayo Clinic researchers suggest that this is associated with shorter life expectancies in those with RA.

For this study, the researchers accessed medical records of 755 people who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis between 1955 and 2008. After a 12 ½-year follow-up, the researchers found that 315 of those patients had died.

The researchers then compared the data of the deceased patients to the estimated survival rates for people with of a similar age and gender, but who did not have rheumatoid arthritis.

The median survival rate for healthy adults was approximately 82 years, but the median survival rate for people with RA was approximately 77 years.

The researchers found that patients with RA are about 2 years older than their actual age at the time of their diagnosis. And from that point on, they continue to age at an accelerated rate. For every 10 actual years they age, a patient with RA will effectively age 11.4 years.

Researchers don't understand exactly why people with rheumatoid arthritis age faster than those who don't have the disease. However, the medical community does know that cells in people with RA undergo an accelerated aging process. The connection between this and shorter life expectancies remains unclear.

There are still many questions about how rheumatoid arthritis works, and more research needs to be done to understand why accelerated aging occurs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Further studies will also hope to determine whether RA treatments help improve mortality rates in those with the disease.

If you'd like to read more about this study, click here.

Updated on: 08/24/15
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most debilitating type of arthritis because it can cause deformity and disability. RA may affect the cervical spine and cause the facet joints in the neck to become inflamed and painful.
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