People with inflammatory bowel disease still die earlier despite increase in life

November 09, 2020

A study comparing life expectancy of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and without found that, while life expectancy increased for both groups, people with IBD generally died sooner. The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"The good news is life expectancy has increased in people with IBD, but there is still a gap between people with and without the disease," says Dr. Eric Benchimol, a senior core scientist at ICES, and a pediatric gastroenterologist who works at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). "However, people with IBD suffer from pain, which can negatively affect daily functioning and contribute to decreased health-adjusted life expectancy."

The study included 32 818 people living with IBD in 1996 (matched to 163 284 people without IBD), increasing to 83 672 in 2011 (matched to 418 360 people without IBD). In women with IBD, life expectancy increased by almost 3 years between 1996 (75.5 years) and 2011 (78.4 years). Life expectancy among men with IBD increased by 3.2 years between 1996 and 2011, from 72.2 years to 75.5 years.

However, people with IBD had a consistently shorter life expectancy than those without IBD. Women with IBD can expect to live between 6.6 years and 8.1 years less than women without IBD. Men with IBD can expect to live between 5.0 years and 6.1 years less than men without IBD. When measuring health-adjusted life expectancy, a measure of how health-related symptoms and functioning affects both quality of life and life expectancy, the gap between those with and without IBD was even greater. Women with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 9.5 to 13.5 years shorter than women without IBD. Men with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 2.6 to 6.7 years shorter than men without IBD.

Patients with IBD often experience inflammation beyond the intestinal tract and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other conditions.

"In light of the increasing prevalence of IBD in Canada, and the frequency of pain in patients with IBD and its impact on health-related quality of life, we need to develop better pain-management strategies," says Dr. Ellen Kuenzig, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at ICES and the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa.

"Life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy in people with inflammatory bowel disease" is published November 9, 2020.
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Canadian Medical Association Journal

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