SOURCE: Roberts E, Wessely S, Chalder T, et al. Mortality of people with chronic fatigue syndrome: A retrospective cohort study in England and Wales from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Biomedical Research Centre (SLaM BRC) Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) Register. Lancet 2016;387:1638-1643.

Small, uncontrolled clinical case series have suggested that patients who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) incur greater risks of heart failure, cancer, suicide, and overall mortality. A recently published report provides great reassurance this is not the case.

According to Roberts et al, CFS is characterized by persistent or relapsing fatigue, along with at least four other symptoms such as memory loss, poor concentration, joint pain, and tender glands. They reviewed data compiled from a United Kingdom registry that included 2,147 CFS cases.

During seven years of follow-up, there was no difference in all-cause mortality rates or cancer-specific mortality. On the other hand, there was a quite substantial increased risk for suicide among CFS patients.

Depression and anxiety previously have been established as common comorbidities for patients with CFS. The marked increased risk for suicide in CFS patients suggests clinicians should enhance their vigilance for CFS and promptly intervene with patients who screen positive for depression.