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Fatigue. 2016;4(4):195-207. doi: 10.1080/21641846.2016.1236588. Epub 2016 Oct 12.

Mortality in Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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1
Center for Community Research, DePaul University.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a dearth of research examining mortality in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Some studies suggest there is an elevated risk of suicide and earlier mortality compared to national norms. However, findings are inconsistent as other researchers have not found significant increases in all-cause mortality for patients.

OBJECTIVE:

This study sought to determine if patients with ME or CFS are reportedly dying earlier than the overall population from the same cause.

METHODS:

Family, friends, and caregivers of deceased individuals with ME or CFS were recruited through social media, patient newsletters, emails, and advocate websites. This study analyzed data including cause and age of death for 56 individuals identified as having ME or CFS.

RESULTS:

The findings suggest patients in this sample are at a significantly increased risk of earlier all-cause (M = 55.9 years) and cardiovascular-related (M = 58.8 years) mortality, and they had a directionally lower mean age of death for suicide (M = 41.3 years) and cancer (M =66.3 years) compared to the overall U.S. population [M = 73.5 (all-cause), 77.7 (cardiovascular), 47.4 (suicide), and 71.1 (cancer) years of age].

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest there is an increase in risk for earlier mortality in patients with ME and CFS. Due to the small sample size and over-representation of severely ill patients, the findings should be replicated to determine if the directional differences for suicide and cancer mortality are significantly different from the overall U.S. population.

KEYWORDS:

cardiovascular; chronic fatigue syndrome; mortality; myalgic encephalomyelitis; suicide

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