Objective: A previous study demonstrated an association between self-reported widespread body pain and increased mortality. The aim of this study was to analyze whether fibromyalgia (FM) and FM-like symptoms are related to increased mortality.
Methods: From hospital records, we identified 1,361 patients referred during the period 1984-1999 because of the suspicion of FM. The cases were reviewed by reviewers who were blinded to the outcome. The cohort was followed up for a total of 5,295 person-years at risk and was linked to the Danish Mortality Register. Using the number of years at risk and sex-, age-, and calendar-specific mortality rates from the general population, cause-specific standardized mortality ratios [SMRs] were calculated.
Results: We observed no overall increased mortality among patients with FM. Among the 1,269 female patients, the SMRs (95% confidence intervals [95% CIs]) for an increased risk of death from suicide, liver cirrhosis/biliary tract disease, and cerebrovascular disease were 10.5 (95% CI 4.5-20.7), 6.4 (95% CI 2.3-13.9), and 3.1 (95% CI 1.1-6.8), respectively. The suicide risk was increased at the time of diagnosis and remained increased after 5 years. Patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria for FM and patients with possible FM had the same cause-specific mortality pattern. No increased cause-specific mortality was observed in the 84 male patients.
Conclusion: The causes of a markedly increased rate of suicide among female patients with FM are at present unknown but may be related to increased rates of lifetime depression, anxiety, and psychiatric disorders. Risk factors for suicide should be sought at the time of the diagnosis of FM and at followup. The results also suggest that risk factors for liver disease and cerebrovascular disease should be evaluated in patients with FM.