Autoimmune diseases are conditions which result from abnormal immune responses directed against the body’s own tissues. They include a wide range of disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. They can often result in chronic ill health and use of healthcare services.
We have shown previously that, collectively, autoimmune diseases are a leading cause of death among women in the UK. We have also quantified (both in collaboration with colleagues at the Farr Institute and independently) increased risks of acute cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes among individuals with thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica.
Another area of interest is using anonymised electronic health data to assess the effects of autoimmune diseases and their therapies on pregnancy outcomes. For example, working in collaboration with colleagues at Cardiff University, we have investigated the adequacy of thyroid hormone replacement therapy in pregnant women and the effect of inadequate replacement on risk of miscarriage. We are now planning a programme of work on this topic.