Background and purpose: There are few population-based surveys on multiple sclerosis (MS) survival. To investigate MS survival in MS patients recruited during surveys conducted in Sicily.
Methods: Multiple sclerosis patients identified during previous surveys were randomly matched to two referent subjects by residence, year of birth, and gender. Living status was obtained by municipality records (end of follow-up June, 30th 2007) and, for the deceased, date and causes of death were searched. Kaplan-Meier plots were used to calculate differences in mortality between MS patients and referent subjects. MS risks for mortality with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were also calculated.
Results: We included 194 MS patients and 388 matched persons. Thirty MS patients (15.5%) and 28 referents (7.2%) had died until the end of follow-up. Mean survival from onset of the disease to death was 20.6 years. Mean age at death was 55.5 for MS patients and 64.8 for the referents. Adjusted Hazard Ratios for mortality in MS was 1.81 (95% CI 1.36-2.40). Kaplan-Meier estimates showed a higher mortality amongst patients compared to referent subjects (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The present study confirms the higher mortality risk in MS patients with no significant gender difference. Causes of death are related to complications of high disability and to increasing age.