BACKGROUND & AIMS:
Diagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is increasing among elderly persons (60 years or older). We performed a nationwide population-based study to estimate incidence and treatment of IBD.
We identified all incident IBD cases in Sweden from 2006 through 2013 using national registers and up to 10 matched population comparator subjects. We collected data on the patients' health care contacts and estimated incidence rates, health service burden, pharmacologic treatments, extra-intestinal manifestations, and surgeries in relation to age of IBD onset (pediatric, <18 years; adults, 18-59 years; elderly, ≥60 years).
Of 27,834 persons diagnosed with incident IBD, 6443 (23%) had a first diagnosis of IBD at 60 years or older, corresponding to an incidence rate of 35/100,000 person-years (10/100,000 person-years for Crohn's disease, 19/100,000 person-years for ulcerative colitis, and 5/100,000 person-years for IBD unclassified). During a median follow-up period of 4.2 years (range, 0-9 years), elderly patients had less IBD-specific outpatient health care but more IBD-related hospitalizations and overall health care use than adult patients with IBD. Compared with patients with pediatric or adult-onset IBD, elderly patients used fewer biologics and immunomodulators but more systemic corticosteroids. Occurrence of extra-intestinal manifestations was similar in elderly and adult patients, but bowel surgery was more common in the elderly (13% after 5 years vs 10% in adults) (P < .001). The absolute risk of bowel surgery was higher in the elderly than in the general population, but in relative terms, the risk increase was larger in younger age groups.
In a nationwide cohort study in Sweden, we associated diagnosis of IBD at age 60 years or older with a lower use of biologics and immunomodulators but higher absolute risk of bowel surgery, compared with diagnosis at a younger age. The large differences in pharmacologic treatment of adults and elderly patients are not necessarily because of a milder course of disease and warrant further investigation.