Epidemiological profile of myasthenia gravis in South Korea using the national health insurance database

Abstract

Objectives

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease characterized by muscle weakness and fatigue. Our objective was to investigate the incidence of MG using the National Health Insurance database of South Korea.

Materials and methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of patients with the G70.0 code designated as MG and administered with MG medications for >3 months from 2007 to 2018 using nationwide data from South Korea.

Results

A total of 8,376 patients with MG during the period of 2010–2018 were identified. There were 3,862 (46.1%) male and 4,517 (53.9%) female patients. The standardized incidence rate was 1.18/100,000 in 2010, and increased to 1.81/100,000 in 2018. The standardized prevalence was 7.50/100,000 in 2010, and changed to 11.15/100,000 in 2018. Pyridostigmine was used to treat 82.3 ± 1.2% of patients with MG during 2010–2018. Among MG patients, 85.7 ± 0.9% used steroids, 31.6 ± 4.8% used azathioprine, 12.9 ± 9.5% used tacrolimus, 7.2 ± 2.1% used cyclosporine, 6.2 ± 1.8% used mycophenolate mofetil, and 0.4 ± 0.1% used methotrexate. Thymectomy was performed in 1,130 MG patients, and the time from MG diagnosis to thymectomy decreased from 2010 to 2018.

Conclusion

Based on the national registry data from 2010 to 2018, the incidence and prevalence rate in South Korea has increased. Whereas the use of IVIG has remained stable, thymectomy is performed earlier than before, and the distribution of immunosuppressant therapies has changed over the years with an increase in tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil. We expect that this study will serve as a basis for future South Korean MG epidemiological studies.

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