Serious infections in patients with myasthenia gravis: population‐based cohort study
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To characterize the frequency and risk of serious infections in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) relative to age/sex/area-matched comparators. METHODS: This was a population-based cohort study in Ontario, Canada of patients with newly-diagnosed MG and 1:4 age/sex/area-matched general population comparators accrued from 1 April 2002 to 31 December 2015. The main outcome was a serious infection, defined by a primary diagnosis code on a hospitalization or emergency department record. We computed crude overall and sex-specific rates of infection among patients with MG and comparators, and the frequency of specific types of infection. Adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using Cox regression. RESULTS: Among 3823 patients with MG, 1275 (33.4%) experienced a serious infection compared with 2973/15 292 (19.4%) of comparators over a mean follow-up of over 5 years. Crude infection rates among patients with MG were twice those in comparators (72.5 vs. 35.0 per 1000 person-years, respectively). The most common infection types were respiratory infections, particularly bacterial pneumonia. After adjustment for potential confounders, MG was associated with a 39% increased infection risk (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% confidence intervals, 1.28-1.51). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with MG are at a significantly higher absolute and relative risk of serious infections compared with age/sex/area-matched comparators. This needs to be considered when selecting MG treatments and when planning vaccination/prophylaxis. Determining whether this risk is due to the use of immunosuppressive medications (vs. MG itself) is an important area for future research.
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