Background: Older age is independently associated with mortality in patients with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (AAV). We hypothesized that a reduced-dose immunosuppressive treatment would result in similar effectiveness and comparable treatment-related morbidity in elderly patients as the regular dose in younger patients. We also postulated that the higher baseline comorbidities may contribute to the higher mortality of the elderly subjects. Methods: Ninety-three consecutive patients with AAV between 1998 and 2012 were retrospectively analyzed. Forty-one individuals were defined as "elderly" (age >65 years) and 52 as "younger" (age <65 years). All cause and cardiovascular mortality, death due to vasculitis and infections, and effectiveness of "reduced-dose" immunosuppressive treatment in the elderly group were compared to the effects of "full-dose" treatment in younger individuals. Results: Mortality in the elderly group was higher (p = 0.007). Cardiovascular death was significantly increased (p = 0.002) in the elderly, but mortality due to vasculitis or infections was comparable. Treatment effectiveness was also similar in elderly and younger patients. At the end of the first follow-up year, 37 % of the elderly and 27 % of the younger patients died (p = 0.22). In univariate Cox regression analyses, being older than 65 year, having cardiovascular disease at baseline, need for dialysis at diagnosis, and lower serum albumin were associated with an increased hazard of mortality. Conclusions: Delivering reduced dose of immunosuppression for elderly patients was associated with satisfactory outcome and favorable treatment-related complication profile. The higher mortality in the elderly could be attributed mainly to baseline cardiovascular morbidity.
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