Older Sarcoidosis Patients Have Worse Disease, Outcomes, Study Suggests

Older Sarcoidosis Patients Have Worse Disease, Outcomes, Study Suggests

According to a new study comparing older and younger sarcoidosis patients, elderly people with sarcoidosis tend to have more severe disease and worse clinical outcomes.

The study, “Elderly sarcoidosis: A comparative study from a 42-year single-centre experience,” was published in the journal Respiratory Medicine

Sarcoidosis usually presents in people between the ages of 30 and 60, being relatively rare in seniors. But there is not much data available on the presentation and progression of sarcoidosis with respect to patient age.

In the study, researchers took data from 42 years of sarcoidosis diagnoses and treatments at Bellvitge University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain. The data included 668 people diagnosed with sarcoidosis; follow-up data was available for 615 of these.

Data were divided into an elderly group and a younger group based on patient age at the time of diagnosis. The elderly group included 47 people (7% of the total) who were at least 65 years old when they were diagnosed; the younger group was the remainder of the patients, who were younger than 65 at diagnosis. Researchers looked for differences between the two groups.

Both groups had similar frequencies of the different types of sarcoidosis, with the exception of Löfgren syndrome, which was significantly more common in the younger group (42.2% vs. 8.5% in the elderly group).

People in the elderly group were significantly more likely to present with lung involvement, including shortness of breath (dyspnea; 38.3% vs. 23.8%), and reduced forced vital capacity (a measurement of lung strength; 40% vs. 14.5%).

Elderly people were also significantly more likely to have isolated sarcoidosis outside the lungs (21.3% vs. 8.2%), and to have nodules under their skin (17% vs. 3.4%). Interestingly, though, people in the younger group were significantly more likely to have joint involvement, such as arthritis (38.5% vs 10.6% in the elderly group).

There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of treatment. However, people in the elderly group were more likely to have a relapse (7.5% vs. 6.6%), and they were more likely to die (6.4% vs. 1.3%). The deaths in both groups were predominantly caused by pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs).

The retrospective nature of the study and the relatively small number of elderly patients pose some limitations on the results obtained. Still, according to the team, the data presented demonstrate an increased likelihood of more severe disease and worse clinical outcomes in older people with sarcoidosis.

Thus, “clinicians should bear in mind a balance between the benefits and side effects of treatment, since these can be even worse in [elderly sarcoidosis patients],” the team concluded.

Marisa holds an MS in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied novel genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She specializes in cancer biology, immunology, and genetics. Marisa began working with BioNews in 2018, and has written about science and health for SelfHacked and the Genetics Society of America. She also writes/composes musicals and coaches the University of Pittsburgh fencing club.
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Marisa holds an MS in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied novel genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She specializes in cancer biology, immunology, and genetics. Marisa began working with BioNews in 2018, and has written about science and health for SelfHacked and the Genetics Society of America. She also writes/composes musicals and coaches the University of Pittsburgh fencing club.
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Marisa holds an MS in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied novel genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She specializes in cancer biology, immunology, and genetics. Marisa began working with BioNews in 2018, and has written about science and health for SelfHacked and the Genetics Society of America. She also writes/composes musicals and coaches the University of Pittsburgh fencing club.

2 comments

  1. Elaine Anderson-Wood says:

    I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve had sarcoidosis for 20 years now. I’m 52. It affects my body in different ways and has never attacked just my lungs, for example. It started in my eyes and lungs but no longer shows up in lung X rays. I do have a lot of general inflammation, which humira and methotrexate have helped with. Getting a food allergy test and finding out I had a sensitivity to peanuts and to eggs has helped a lot. I also need about 9-12 hours of sleep per night to keep flares in check.

  2. Lynne tweddell says:

    I was diagnosed whilst they were looking for lung cancer, I know I got the better answer but with the lack of knowledge available it has been quite a fight to find help, luckily the team at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London agreed to see me. I have recently come off the steroid treatment as it didn’t seem to be helping but the lumps under my skin have started to get infected causing abscess, this I assume is the sarcoid? Do these lumps ever go away?

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