Objective: To evaluate the occurrence of malnutrition in patients with ALS, to assess the relation of malnutrition to the neurologic deficit, and to determine the impact of nutritional status on patient survival.
Background: Although ALS may be associated with significant malnutrition, the relative impact on patient survival has not yet been well established.
Methods: In a prospective 7-month study of 55 ALS patients in a referral neurology practice, nutritional status was assessed by calculating body mass index. Neurologic evaluation includes four functional scores and identifies the form of disease onset. Slow vital capacity (VC) was also measured.
Results: Occurrence of malnutrition in patients studied was 16.4%. Survival (using the Kaplan-Meier method) was worse for malnourished patients (p < 0.0001), with a 7.7-fold increased risk of death. Using multivariate analysis, only reduced VC (p < 0.0001) and malnutrition (p < 0.01) were found to have significant independent prognostic value. The degree of malnutrition is independent of neurologic scores and of forms of ALS onset.
Conclusion: Nutritional surveillance of ALS patients is very important, both in bulbar-onset and spinal-onset patients.