No increased mortality from questionnaire-reported night sweats in elderly

January 01, 0001

No increased mortality from questionnaire-reported night sweats in elderly

When asked, a significant number of patients report having experienced night sweats. Those who do are more likely to report decreased physical health, mental health, and quality of life. In most cases the cause of night sweats is unknown. The researchers from Oklahoma City therefore did not know how much to worry about patients with this symptom. The present study examined associations between night sweats and mortality. 2 different cohorts of people older than 65 years of age (n = 682 and n = 852) were followed for an average of 7.3 and 7.5 years, respectively.

Patients who reported night sweats were not more likely to die or to die sooner than those who did not report night sweats after controlling for age, sex, body mass index, education, and income. This held true as well for patients who reported more severe night sweats among the cohort in which the severity of night sweats was quantified.

The researchers concluded: "Patients who report night sweats on a primary care health history questionnaire do not seem, on average, to be at increased risk for mortality."

This is often a source of worry to patients and doctors, but this finding is reassuring in the primary care setting. This was, however, limited to the elderly and the night sweats were discovered by questionnaire, not a presentation of patients.

For the full abstract, click here.

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 23 (1): 97-103, January 2010
© 2010 American Board of Family Medicine
The Prognostic Implications of Night Sweats in Two Cohorts of Older Patients. James W. Mold and Frank Lawler. Correspondence to James W. Mold: [email protected]

Category: A. General/Unspecified. Keywords: night sweats, older patients, prognostic significance, comparative cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 18 February 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.