Cystic fibrosis patients live 10 years longer in Canada than in the US

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2017-03-14

Enlarge / Preschool age girl with cystic fibrosis sits with her mom while receiving a breathing treatment. (credit: Getty | Steve Debenport)

Just over the northern border of the US, patients with the same devastating genetic condition—cystic fibrosis—are living an average of 10 years longer, researchers reported Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

After adjusting for differences among patients’ overall health, disease severity, and clinical factors, a team of American and Canadian researchers found that cystic fibrosis patients’ median age of survival is 50.9 years in Canada and 40.6 years in the US. Though the study did not fully assess the causes for the “significant survival gap,” the researchers noted that better access to lung transplants and healthcare in general appeared to play a role.

In fact, when comparing Canadian patients who have universal, government-provided health insurance with US patients who have private insurance, the researchers found no difference in the risk of death. But, US patients with continuous or intermittent Medicare or Medicaid or with no insurance at all had 36 to 77 percent higher risks of death than their Canadian counterparts.

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