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Open Access Research article

Trends in dermatomyositis- and polymyositis-related mortality in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, 1985-2007: multiple cause-of-death analysis

Augusto H Santo1*, José Maria P Souza1, Celso E Pinheiro2, Deborah CC Souza3 and Emilia I Sato3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculdade de Saúde Pública da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

2 Departamento de Informática do Sistema Único de Saúde, Ministério da Saúde, Brazil

3 Escola Paulista de Medicina, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:597  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-597

Published: 11 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Dermatomyositis (DM) and polymyositis (PM) are rare systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases with high fatality rates. There have been few population-based mortality studies of dermatomyositis and polymyositis in the world, and none have been conducted in Brazil. The objective of the present study was to employ multiple-cause-of-death methodology in the analysis of trends in mortality related to dermatomyositis and polymyositis in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, between 1985 and 2007.

Methods

We analyzed mortality data from the São Paulo State Data Analysis System, selecting all death certificates on which DM or PM was listed as a cause of death. The variables sex, age and underlying, associated or total mentions of causes of death were studied using mortality rates, proportions and historical trends. Statistical analysis were performed by chi-square and H Kruskal-Wallis tests, variance analysis and linear regression. A p value less than 0.05 was regarded as significant.

Results

Over a 23-year period, there were 318 DM-related deaths and 316 PM-related deaths. Overall, DM/PM was designated as an underlying cause in 55.2% and as an associated cause in 44.8%; among 634 total deaths females accounted for 71.5%. During the study period, age- and gender-adjusted DM mortality rates did not change significantly, although PM as an underlying cause and total mentions of PM trended lower (p < 0.05). The mean ages at death were 47.76 ± 20.81 years for DM and 54.24 ± 17.94 years for PM (p = 0.0003). For DM/PM, respectively, as underlying causes, the principal associated causes of death were as follows: pneumonia (in 43.8%/33.5%); respiratory failure (in 34.4%/32.3%); interstitial pulmonary diseases and other pulmonary conditions (in 28.9%/17.6%); and septicemia (in 22.8%/15.9%). For DM/PM, respectively, as associated causes, the following were the principal underlying causes of death: respiratory disorders (in 28.3%/26.0%); circulatory disorders (in 17.4%/20.5%); neoplasms (in 16.7%/13.7%); infectious and parasitic diseases (in 11.6%/9.6%); and gastrointestinal disorders (in 8.0%/4.8%). Of the 318 DM-related deaths, 36 involved neoplasms, compared with 20 of the 316 PM-related deaths (p = 0.03).

Conclusions

Our study using multiple cause of deaths found that DM/PM were identified as the underlying cause of death in only 55.2% of the deaths, indicating that both diseases were underestimated in the primary mortality statistics. We observed a predominance of deaths in women and in older individuals, as well as a trend toward stability in the mortality rates. We have confirmed that the risk of death is greater when either disease is accompanied by neoplasm, albeit to lesser degree in individuals with PM. The investigation of the underlying and associated causes of death related to DM/PM broaden the knowledge of the natural history of both diseases and could help integrate mortality data for use in the evaluation of control measures for DM/PM.