People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who quit smoking have better health outcomes than those who continue. Therefore, MS-related costs can be reduced by encouraging smokers to quit. Similar results were observed in MS patients with healthy vitamin D levels, Maura Pugliatti, from the University of Ferrara, in Italy, said Friday in a presentation at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting in Paris, France.
In a presentation titled, “Promoting healthier lifestyle contributes to averting multiple sclerosis long-term societal and healthcare costs: results from the VoT project,” the team shared results of an analysis that used data from scientific literature to determine how smoking and low vitamin D levels contribute to increased MS progression or disability levels.
The team analyzed data from the Value of Treatment (VoT) Project, an effort to provide evidence-based and cost-effective policy recommendations for a more patient-focused and sustainable coordinated care model for people with brain disorders, including MS.
Researchers built a model comparing disability levels and the likelihood of progressing from relapsing to secondary progressive MS between people who had stopped smoking and those who continued. They also compared people who took action to increase vitamin D levels with those who did not.
The results showed that quitting smoking and increasing vitamin D levels significantly improved health outcomes, measured by gains in Quality Adjusted Life-Years (QALYs), a measure that takes into account both the quality of life and the number of years lived with a disease.
Additionally, quitting smoking and increasing vitamin D levels led to healthcare savings of $2,900-$19,026 per case of smoking cessation and $505-$7,205 per case of increased vitamin D levels.
In Europe, the cost of MS-related healthcare is estimated at about $42,926 per patient, per year. This more than triples when patients reach higher disability levels.
Of note, indirect and informal care costs, which are often covered by patients and their families, were seen to increase the most. These costs make up 40% of total costs, according to the European Brain Council, which supported the study along with the European Academy of Neurology.
Pugliatti said that the results show “economic evidence to target appropriate public health interventions for primary and secondary prevention on modifiable lifestyle risk factors to reduce MS burden in Europe.”
She added that promoting a healthier lifestyle among patients and starting disease-modifying therapies early can help avoid long-term progression of MS and reduce healthcare and societal costs.
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