Hepatitis C Patients May Live Longer With Treatment

Hepatitis C patients with chronic infection and successful antiviral treatment had normal life expectancy

(RxWiki News) For patients with chronic hepatitis C, liver problems can sometimes shorten their lives. But a new study found that successful treatment might ease some life expectancy concerns for these patients.

The study found that patients who had successful antiviral treatment had a life expectancy similar to those without the condition.

Hepatitis includes a number of different conditions that affect the liver. Chronic hepatitis C infection can lead to issues like liver cancer or scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis.

The authors of this new study, which was led by Adriaan J. van der Meer, MD, PhD, of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, wanted to explore the life expectancy of patients who had achieved a sustained virological response (SVR) — meaning that the virus causing hepatitis C was no longer detectable in their bodies.

To do so, Dr. van der Meer and team used data from a past study to find 530 hepatitis C patients in Europe and Canada with an average age of 48. The patients all had the beginnings of liver damage, including cirrhosis.

The patients had all received antiviral treatment aimed at fighting the virus that causes hepatitis C. The patients underwent follow-up tests six months after treatment ended to determine whether they had achieved SVR.

The study authors found that 192 of the patients (36 percent) achieved SVR. In the 10 years following, 13 of these SVR patients died. Of the 338 patients who did not achieve SVR, 100 died.

Dr. van der Meer and colleagues compared this survival data to a sample from the general population in the Netherlands. They found that 91.1 percent of the patients who achieved SVR had survived after 10 years — similar to the survival results from the general public.

However, the survival rate of the hepatitis C patients who did not achieve SVR was 74 percent — significantly lower than that of the general public.

Further research is needed to explore the topic and what other factors might have contributed to these results, the authors noted.

The study was published online Nov. 11 in JAMA.

The Foundation for Liver and Gastrointestinal Research funded the study. Some of the study authors received funding from pharmaceutical companies for past work. They gave lectures and served as consultants for companies like Roche, Abbott, Bayer and Novartis.


Review Date: 
November 11, 2014