From the Journals

White AAV patients post highest mortality rates



Age-adjusted mortality from antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody–associated vasculitides (AAV) in the United States declined by nearly 2% each year between 1999 and 2017, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Significant morbidity and mortality are associated with untreated AAV, wrote Alexander W. Steinberg, MD, of Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, Colo., and colleagues.

“Although population data from the United Kingdom have shown decreased AAV-related mortality during the past 20 years, it is unknown whether this pattern has occurred in the United States,” they wrote.

In a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers identified 11,316 AAV-related deaths from 1999 to 2017 in the CDC data.

Overall, age-adjusted mortality was 1.86 per 1,000,000 persons, with highest rates among non-Hispanic whites, men, and residents of the Midwest. Mortality from AAV declined by an average of 1.6% in each year of the study period, and changes in subgroups stratified by gender, race, and geographic region were similar.

Mortality increased with age and was highest among individuals aged 75-84 years, but a significant decline in mortality occurred among individuals aged 65-74 years. “The decrease in overall mortality and mortality among persons aged 65 to 74 years may reflect increased longevity due to improved treatment of AAV and common comorbid conditions,” the researchers said.

“Surprisingly, the authors found much lower age-adjusted mortality rates for non-Hispanic black persons (0.77) and moderately lower mortality rates for Hispanic persons (1.57) than for non-Hispanic white persons (2.03),” wrote John R. Stone, MD, PhD, of Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., in an accompanying editorial.

“Suppose the mortality rate differences reported by Steinberg and colleagues are statistically significant, accurately represent death certificate diagnoses, and match people’s racial/ethnic self-identification. The data then show neither that the vasculitides actually have lower mortality rates in blacks or Hispanics compared with whites, nor that the diseases are indeed less frequent in blacks and Hispanics,” he said. “Rather, these differences probably signify how social inequities, social structural violence, and inferior health care access adversely influence diagnosis of rare diseases and promote health inequity,” Dr. Stone added. The findings suggest that clinicians should remain alert to AAV in some ethnic groups to improve diagnostic accuracy, he said.

“Moreover, improved AAV diagnosis in such groups is key to recruiting participants for research investigating whether therapies should differ among populations,” he emphasized.

The study findings were limited by possible under- or overreporting of AAV on death certificates, but they were strengthened by the large sample size, the researchers noted. “We hope that the mortality patterns presented here can be used to direct future research on the driving forces behind these trends,” they said.

Dr. Steinberg had no financial conflicts to disclose. Dr. Stone had no financial conflicts to disclose.

SOURCES: Steinberg AW et al. Ann Intern Med. 2019 Oct 8. doi: 10.7326/M19-1564; and Stone JR. Ann Intern Med. 2019 Oct 8. doi: 10.7326/M19-2755.

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