Early Mortality in a Multinational Systemic Sclerosis Inception Cohort
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OBJECTIVE: To determine mortality and causes of death in a multinational inception cohort of subjects with systemic sclerosis (SSc). METHODS: We quantified mortality as standardized mortality ratio (SMR), years of life lost, and percentage mortality in the first decade of disease. The inception cohort comprised subjects recruited within 4 years of disease onset. For comparison, we used a prevalent cohort, which included all subjects irrespective of disease duration at recruitment. We determined a single primary cause of death (SSc related or non-SSc related) using a standardized case report form, and we evaluated predictors of mortality using multivariable Cox regression. RESULTS: In the inception cohort of 1,070 subjects, there were 140 deaths (13%) over a median follow-up of 3.0 years (interquartile range 1.0-5.1 years), with a pooled SMR of 4.06 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 3.39-4.85), up to 22.4 years of life lost in women and up to 26.0 years of life lost in men, and mortality in the diffuse disease subtype of 24.2% at 8 years. In the prevalent cohort of 3,218 subjects, the pooled SMR was lower at 3.39 (95% CI 3.06-3.71). In the inception cohort, 62.1% of the primary causes of death were SSc related. Malignancy, sepsis, cerebrovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease were the most common non-SSc-related causes of death. Predictors of early mortality included male sex, older age at disease onset, diffuse disease subtype, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and renal crisis. CONCLUSION: Early mortality in SSc is substantial, and prevalent cohorts underestimate mortality in SSc by failing to capture early deaths, particularly in men and those with diffuse disease.
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