ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease with a survival rate of only 2-5 years. The leading cause of death for individuals with ALS is respiratory failure. ALS Clinic Director Stephen Goutman, M.D., M.S. partnered with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ALS Association to look at over 24,000 death certificates of those who had been diagnosed with ALS to look to see if other conditions, like cardiovascular disease and pneumonia, also contributed to mortality. Particularly interesting results were the following:
- ALS was listed at the sole cause of death for almost 50% on the death certificates
- The most frequent causes of death listed with ALS were respiratory failure (25%), cardiovascular disease (13%) and pneumonia (6%)
These results are significant because these causes of death are preventable, and possibly missed as providers concentrate on ALS. Paying more attention to these chronic illnesses is a possible way to extend the lifespan of ALS patients.