Patients with Rare Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease Face More Severe COVID-19 Cases

A review of COVID-19 data from the UK shows that patients with rare autoimmune rheumatic disease (RAIRD) face a higher mortality risk, according to an article in Healio. The study, which was published in Rheumatology, looked at COVID-19 patients who also had scleroderma, lupus, giant cell arteritis, different forms of vasculitis, Behcet’s disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and idiopathic inflammatory myositis.

RAIRDs and COVID-19

While there has not been enough time to do enough research into rare diseases and the novel coronavirus, medical professionals do know that rare diseases often lead to poorer outcomes. This research, conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, is some of the first of its kind.

Using the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) for the UK in combination data from the NHS, researchers aimed to evaluate the mortality risk of RAIRD patients within the pandemic compared to those without a rare disease and RAIRD patients in pre-pandemic times.

The data from 168,691 cases was included in the study, and of these cases 1.1% passed away between April and March. This means that the age-standardized mortality rate for this population was ,669.3 per 100,000 person-years. This rate is 1.44 times higher than the mortality rate of RAIRD patients for the past five years.  It was also 1.38 times higher than that of the general population.

This data demonstrates that RAIRD patients see a heightened risk of mortality at age 35, whereas the general population sees the same risk at age 55. Females also face a higher risk than their male counterparts.

While this data is helpful in understanding the risks that rare disease patients face during the pandemic, there needs to be more research. Dr. Fiona Pearce, one of the researchers, stated that further investigation will happen. She aims to evaluate the cause of death for RAIRD patients infected with COVID-19, whether it was the infection itself or the disruption of healthcare services.

Find the source article here.

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