Causes of death among patients with multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2010 Dec;16(12):1437-42. doi: 10.1177/1352458510379244. Epub 2010 Sep 8.


Background: Several studies show a high mortality risk among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Objectives: In this study, mortality and underlying causes of death were analysed among patients with MS diagnosed between 1964-1993 in Finland (n = 1595).

Methods: Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for both genders. The follow-up was based on linkage to the national computerized Cause-of-Death Register of Statistics Finland.

Results: Altogether, 464 deaths were recorded by the end of 2006. The SMR as compared with the general population among females was 3.4 (95% confidence interval 3.0-3.9) and among males 2.2 (1.9-2.6). In total, 270 patients (58%) died from MS; only one of these deaths occurred during the first 2 years after the MS diagnosis. Mortality was also increased for other natural causes of death (n = 160) in patients followed for more than 10 years (SMR 1.4, 1.2-1.7), with a significant increase in deaths from influenza (29, 6.0-85), pneumonia (4.7, 2.5-8.0) and gastrointestinal causes (4.4, 2.3-7.7). The SMR for violent causes was 1.2 (0.7-1.9) and for alcohol-related deaths 0.2 (0.02-0.7). The SMR for suicides was 1.7 (0.9-2.7).

Conclusions: The MS population has an increased disease mortality, while the increase in the risk of accidents and suicides is not significantly increased among patients with MS in Finland.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / mortality*