Epidemiology of myasthenia gravis in Denmark. A longitudinal and comprehensive population survey

Arch Neurol. 1991 Jul;48(7):733-9. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1991.00530190081019.


The incidence of myasthenia gravis (MG) was found to be constant in calendar time. The mean annual incidence rate was 4.4 per million population. Age- and sex-specific incidence rates disclosed a bimodal appearance for both sexes, with a peak age at onset located in the early-onset group and another peak for late onset of MG. Early onset of MG appeared 10 years later for male individuals than for female individuals, whereas the peak for late onset of MG was located at the same age for both sexes. It is suggested that the separation between early onset and late onset of MG should be at the age of 50 years for both sexes, rather than at 35 to 40 years as accepted in most studies. The prevalence of MG has increased in time. On January 1, 1988, the point prevalence rate was 77 per million population (female subjects, 96, and male subjects, 57). This reflects an improvement in prognosis despite the fact that life expectancy was found to be significantly lower for MG patients than that of the sex- and age-matched population. The factors causing increased mortality were found to be operative throughout the duration of the disease. Maximum severity of disease was reached within 2 years from onset in 78% of the cases, and more than 50% of all MG-related deaths occurred during the same period. In the course of MG, 70% of all patients experience generalized muscular weakness, and 30% to 40% also suffer from respiratory problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myasthenia Gravis / epidemiology*
  • Myasthenia Gravis / mortality
  • Population Surveillance