-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People with rheumatoid
arthritis have higher-than-normal rates of depression, which could
increase their risk of death, according to a new study.
The researchers looked at 530 patients, average age 60, in
northern California who had rheumatoid arthritis for an average of
19 years. They were assessed for depressive symptoms in 2002 or
2003 and then followed until 2009. During that time, 63 of the
Overall, depressed patients were twice as likely to die as those
without depression. The risk of death among depressed men was twice
that for depressed women. Men with depression were five times more
likely to die than women without depression.
Even men and women who had depressive symptoms but did not have
depression were more likely to die than those without any
depressive symptoms, according to Patricia Katz, a professor of
medicine and health policy at University of California, San
Francisco, and colleagues.
Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes pain, swelling and loss of
joint function, affects about 1.3 million Americans and occurs in
women twice as often as in men. It is different from age-related
The study is scheduled for presentation Sunday at the American
College of Rheumatology annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.
Katz said the findings suggest that depression and depressive
symptoms are a significant risk factor for death in rheumatoid
arthritis patients, although it is not necessarily part of the
"Patients need to be made aware that depression is something to pay attention to in [rheumatoid arthritis], and they need to tell their physician about it. Rheumatologists and other health care providers need to be aware of the problem of depression in the clinical setting," Katz concluded.
Data and conclusions presented at medical meetings are typically
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
And while the study found an association between depressed
rheumatoid arthritis patients and risk of death, it did not prove a
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases has more about
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