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November 1, 1996

Epidemiologic evidence for a changing natural history of myasthenia gravis

November 1996 issue
47 (5) 1233-1238


Objective: To survey the epidemiologic literature for evidence of an increasing prevalence of myasthenia gravis (MG) over time, and to explore the reasons for the increase. Data Sources: We found population-based reports of the epidemiology of MG by searching bibliographic databases. We used MG, epidemiology, prevalence, incidence, and mortality as search terms. Study Selection: We included population-based studies that reported the number of cases and the time period from which rates were calculated. Statistical Methods: We performed a regression analysis of rates versus date of study, comparing the slopes of regression lines for prevalence, incidence, and mortality. We performed a second analysis grouping rates by decade of study and calculating a mean rate weighted by the size of the population studied. We calculated 95% confidence intervals for each rate. Results: We included 33 studies from 1950 through 1995. Prevalence and incidence rates increased over time, but the regression line for prevalence significantly exceeded that for incidence. Mortality rates declined slightly. The weighted means for prevalence rose significantly, but there was no significant change in incidence or mortality. Conclusion: The prevalence of MG has increased over the past forty-five years, probably because patients with the disease have longer life spans owing to present-day treatment.
NEUROLOGY 1996;47: 1233-1238

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Published In

Volume 47Number 5November 1996
Pages: 1233-1238
PubMed: 8909435

Publication History

Published online: November 1, 1996
Published in print: November 1996


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Affiliations & Disclosures

Lawrence H. Phillips, II, MD
From the Department of Neurology (Dr. Phillips), University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health (Dr. Torner), University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.
Presented in part at the 45th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, New York, NY, April 25-May 1, 1993.
Received December 28, 1994. Accepted in final form March 8, 1996.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Phillips, Box 394, Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908.

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