A new review reveals that a chronic condition affecting millions of patients could be linked to a greater risk of death.

According to the meta-analysis, which combine results from numerous scientific studies, people living with fibromyalgia have a 27% higher risk of death due to a greater risk of accidents, infections and suicide.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel said: “Fibromyalgia is often called an “imaginary condition” with ongoing debates on the legitimacy and clinical usefulness of this diagnosis.

“Our review provides further proof that fibromyalgia patients should be taken seriously, with particular focus on screening for suicidal ideation, prevention of accidents, and prevention and treatment of infections.”

The meta-analysis examined results from eight studies which took place between 1999 and 2020 and involved a total of more than 188,000 adults who were also clinically diagnosed with other health conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four million adults in the United States, which is approximately two per cent of its population, are affected by fibromyalgia. Approximately 5.5% of adults in Great Britain have fibromyalgia, according to the NHS.

Women are two times as likely to have fibromyalgia compared to men and the condition can run in families.

People with fibromyalgia are 44% more likely to develop infections such as pneumonia and sepsis and are three times as likely to commit suicide, according to the recent review. Researchers also discovered that people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are 5% more likely to have an accident, such as a car crash, or injury.

The researchers explained: “The finding of increased mortality associated with accidents can stem from fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, and the concentration difficulties that accompany fibromyalgia.”

However, the review found that people with fibromyalgia have a 12% lower risk of developing cancer compared to the general population. The researchers suggest that the regular extensive testing for people with fibromyalgia makes it easier to catch cancer earlier.

The condition causes prevalent pain and tenderness across the whole body, such as the arms, legs, head, chest and abdomen, and causes people to be more sensitive to pain.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) shared that other symptoms can include muscle and joint stiffness, tenderness, an intensified sensitivity to light and noise, numbness and tingling, memory issues and digestive issues. The organisation also revealed that although the condition can begin at any age, it is usually diagnosed in middle age.

Not only are people with fibromyalgia more likely to develop other conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), they also have a greater likelihood of developing depression and anxiety.

“Studies have shown that medical staff are reluctant to accept fibromyalgia as a medical condition, and they face emotional and psychological difficulties interacting with these patients and coping with their disorder,” said the researchers.

The researchers suggest that this could be the reason behind the increased likelihood of suicide.

Cases of fibromyalgia are on the rise and although it is unknown what causes the condition, the researchers are calling for these patients to be taken seriously.

They suggest an increase in screening for suicidal ideation, accident prevention and prevention and treatment of infections.

The review was published in the journal RMD Open.

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