Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 February 2012
Reports of fatigue preceding cardiac events have recently been confirmed by large prospective studies. To assess for genetic confounding, we investigated prolonged fatigue and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a cohort of World War II veteran twins. We examined data from a questionnaire mailed to members of the National Academy of Sciences–National Research Council (NAS–NRC) World War II Twins Registry in 1998 and 1999 which included questions on demographics, medical conditions and symptoms of fatigue. Data from twins discordant for prolonged fatigue lasting a month or more were analyzed using conditional logistic regression. Among 1955 twin pairs, 157 monozygotic and 174 dizygotic pairs (mean age 74 years) were discordant for prolonged fatigue. An association was found between prolonged fatigue and a history of myocardial infarction or coronary artery surgery adjusting for age, socioeconomic status, smoking, alcohol use and depression (OR [Odds Ratio]: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3–4.0). When analyses were performed separately by zygosity, the association was slightly larger for monozygotic (OR: 3.3; 95% CI: 1.2–9.1) than dizygotic twins (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 0.9–4.0). These data corroborate the association of fatigue with CVD and suggest that it is not influenced by a common genetic factor. Further studies are needed to clarify the relationship and to better understand the biologic mechanisms.