Disease Course of Myasthenia Gravis
In myasthenia gravis (MG), the degree of weakness and fatigue experienced by the patient can vary each day. Patients tend to feel strongest in the morning following a full night’s rest and feel weaker at night.
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The severity of symptoms often increases over time and reaches peak severity around 1 to 3 years after the onset of the disease. For a small percentage (about 15%) of the patients, the condition remains ocular. In most cases, however, the condition becomes generalized.
Most patients do not experience weakness that is severe enough to require a wheelchair all the time. Moreover, the majority of people with MG are able to maintain a physically active lifestyle.
About 20% of patients with MG are able to achieve remission, where some or all of their symptoms are reversed. However, the remission may not be permanent, and typically lasts an average of 5 years. It is possible to experience more than one remission during a lifetime. Some people with MG are able to achieve permanent or long periods of remission that last over 20 years.
MG can affect the quality of life in many patients. Often, patients with MG lead a lower quality of life compared to the general population. Several factors affect the quality of life, including:
- Impaired mobility
- Low income
- Job loss
Myasthenia Gravis Life Expectancy
Researchers are yet to find a cure for myasthenia gravis (MG). Fortunately, most individuals with this disease have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
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Factors That May Increase Death Risk in People With Myasthenia Gravis
Several studies suggest that the following factors may increase death risk:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)
- High blood fat levels (hyperlipidemia)
- Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Malignant tumor
- Basta, Ivana et al. “Survival and mortality of adult-onset myasthenia gravis in the population of Belgrade, Serbia.” Muscle & nerve vol. 58,5 (2018): 708-712. doi:10.1002/mus.26132.
- Christensen PB, Jensen TS, Tsiropoulos I, et al Mortality and survival in myasthenia gravis: a Danish population based study, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1998;64:78-83.
- Alshekhlee, A et al. “Incidence and mortality rates of myasthenia gravis and myasthenic crisis in US hospitals.” Neurology vol. 72,18 (2009): 1548-54. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181a41211.
- Wendell, Linda C, and Joshua M Levine. “Myasthenic crisis.” The Neurohospitalist vol. 1,1 (2011): 16-22. doi:10.1177/1941875210382918.
- Twork, S., Wiesmeth, S., Klewer, J. et al. Quality of life and life circumstances in German myasthenia gravis patients. Health Qual Life Outcomes 8, 129 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7525-8-129.
- Szczudlik, Piotr et al. “Determinants of Quality of Life in Myasthenia Gravis Patients.” Frontiers in neurology vol. 11 553626. 23 Sep. 2020, doi:10.3389/fneur.2020.553626.
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Dr. Rachel Chang, PharmD was born and raised in Hawaii. She received her degree from Marshall B. Ketchum University in 2022, where she graduated with cum laude honors. The most rewarding part of her job is the connections she makes with each patient. She enjoys speaking with each patient and helping them achieve the best treatment possible. In her free time, she likes spending time with her family, traveling, fishing, and mountain biking.