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Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is the commonest inflammatory rheumatic disease affecting older people. The current mainstay of treatment is long-term oral glucocorticoid therapy. Management of these patients in clinical practice is often complicated by the presence of comorbidity. Comorbidity might be due to shared risk factors such as age, sex, or genetic background; to the presence of the disease itself; or to adverse effects of glucocorticoid therapy. Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis/fracture, metabolic and ocular comorbidity are of particular interest to clinicians because of their relationship to glucocorticoid therapy and the relevance to clinical treatment decisions regarding glucocorticoid tapering. Patients at high risk of exacerbation of comorbidity by glucocorticoid therapy may be considered for adjunctive steroid-sparing therapies and thus may need specialist management. From a public health perspective, with the ageing population the prevalence of PMR is predicted to increase; accurate data on comorbidity will be needed for planning and delivery of healthcare services.
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