Interstitial lung disease has a poor prognosis in rheumatoid arthritis: results from an inception cohort

Gouri Koduri, Sam Norton, Adam Young, Nigel Cox, Paul Davies, Joe Devlin, Josh Dixey, Andrew Gough, Peter Prouse, John Winfield, Peter Williams
Rheumatology 2010, 49 (8): 1483-9

OBJECTIVES: Pulmonary complications of RA are well described. Although some are benign, interstitial lung disease (ILD) has a poor prognosis. Few RA inception cohorts have reported the natural history of ILD related to RA (RA-ILD). We examine its incidence, outcome and prognostic indicators.

METHODS: Extra-articular features and comorbidity have been recorded yearly in a well-established inception cohort of RA with a 20-year follow-up. Standard clinical, laboratory and radiological measures of RA were recorded at baseline and yearly. Details of deaths were provided by a national central register.

RESULTS: Out of 1460 patients, 52 developed RA-ILD, half either at baseline or within 3 years of onset. The annualized incidence was 4.1/1000 (95% CI 3.0, 5.4) and the 15-year cumulative incidence 62.9/1000 (95% CI 43.0, 91.7). Incidence of RA-ILD was associated with older age, raised baseline ESR and HAQ. Evidence to implicate any drug effect (e.g. MTX) was lacking. Of these patients, 39 died, attributed to RA-ILD in 28. Median survival following diagnosis of RA-ILD was 3 years.

CONCLUSIONS: RA-ILD is an important and early feature of RA. It is related to disease activity and has a poor prognosis. Further studies are required to determine whether screening for pulmonary disease would identify these patients at an earlier stage.


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