Mental versus physical fatigue after subarachnoid hemorrhage: differential associations with outcome

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BACKGROUND: Fatigue is a major consequence of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), but the specific characteristics are unclear. Our objective was to investigate the nature of post-SAH fatigue (mental or physical) and to determine the relationship with functional outcome in the chronic stage. Also, the possible influence of mood disorders and acute SAH-related factors (SAH type and external cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage) on the presence of fatigue was investigated.

METHODS: Patients with an aneurysmal SAH (aSAH) or angiographically negative SAH (anSAH) were assessed 3 to 10 years post-SAH (N = 221). Questionnaires were used to investigate mental and physical fatigue and mood. Functional outcome was examined with the Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended (GOSE). Between-group comparisons and binary logistic regression analysis were performed.

RESULTS: Frequencies of mental and physical fatigue were 48.4% and 38.5% respectively, with prevalence of mental fatigue being significantly higher. A two-way ANOVA with SAH type and external CSF drainage as independent variables and mental fatigue as dependent variable, showed a significant main effect of CSF drainage only (p < 0.001). Only mental fatigue explained a significant part of the variance in long-term functional outcome (Model χ2 = 52.99, p < 0.001; Nagelkerke R² = 0.32).

CONCLUSIONS: Mental fatigue after SAH is a serious burden to the patient and is associated with impaired long-term functional outcome. Distinguishing different aspects of fatigue is relevant as mental post-SAH fatigue might be a target for treatment aimed to improve long-term outcome. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1313
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number11
Early online date20-Jun-2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2018


  • functional outcome
  • mental fatigue
  • physical fatigue
  • return to work
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage

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