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Long-term outcome in polymyositis and dermatomyositis

Abstract

Background: Although polymyositis and dermatomyositis are regarded as treatable disorders, prognosis is not well known, as in the literature long-term outcome and prognostic factors vary widely.

Aim: To analyse the prognostic outcome factors in polymyositis and adult dermatomyositis.

Methods: We determined mortality, clinical outcome (muscle strength, disability, persistent use of drugs and quality of life) and disease course and analysed prognostic outcome factors.

Results: Disease-related death occurred in at least 10% of the patients, mainly because of associated cancer and pulmonary complications. Re-examination of 110 patients after a median follow-up of 5 years showed that 20% remained in remission and were off drugs, whereas 80% had a polycyclic or chronic continuous course. The cumulative risk of incident connective tissue disorder in patients with myositis was significantly increased. 65% of the patients had normal strength at follow-up, 34% had no or slight disability, and 16% had normal physical sickness impact profile scores. Muscle weakness was associated with higher age (odds ratio (OR) 3.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 10.3). Disability was associated with male sex (OR 3.1; 95% CI 1.2 to 7.9). 41% of the patients with a favourable clinical outcome were still using drugs. Jo-1 antibodies predicted the persistent use of drugs (OR 4.4, 95% CI 1.3 to 15.0).

Conclusions: Dermatomyositis and polymyositis are serious diseases with a disease-related mortality of at least 10%. In the long term, myositis has a major effect on perceived disability and quality of life, despite the regained muscle strength.

  • CTD, connective tissue disorder
  • MRC, Medical Research Council
  • MSA, myositis-specific autoantibodies
  • s-IBM, sporadic inclusion body myositis
  • SIP, Sickness Impact Profile
  • SRP, signal recognition particle
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