#ECTRIMS2018 — Infections, Severe Disability Complications More Likely Causes of Death in MS Patients, Study Shows

#ECTRIMS2018 — Infections, Severe Disability Complications More Likely Causes of Death in MS Patients, Study Shows

Infections and complications from severe disability are the greatest contributors to mortality among multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, according to a population-based study in British Columbia, Canada, which also found that that MS is a more common underlying cause of death among younger patients.

The study, “Causes that contribute to deaths due to multiple sclerosis: analyses of population-based multiple-cause-death data,” was presented Thursday at the 34th congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), taking place through Friday in Berlin.

The data was presented by Keith Harding from the Institute for Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience, Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia in Canada.

The use of multiple-cause-of-death data — including the underlying and all contributing causes of death — has led to successful assessments of mortality causes in chronic diseases.

With the recent development of additional disease-modifying treatments for MS, better understanding of causes of death in these patients has become even more important.

To address this, the scientists explored the link between MS and all other causes listed on death certificates of adults in British Columbia between 1986 and 2013.

The International Classification of Diseases codes were classified into “underlying” (meaning the disease or injury that initiated the chain of events leading directly to death) or “any mention” (contributing) causes. Age, sex, and calendar year of death were accounted for in the analysis.

Results showed a total of 771,288 deaths over the period analyzed. The mean age at death was 74.5 years, with 47.5% being women.

Discuss the latest research in the MS News Today forums!

MS was mentioned as a cause of death in 2,153 cases (0.28%), and was more commonly classified as the underlying cause in younger patients than in older ones, accounting for 78% in individuals younger than 40 and 49% in individuals older than 80.

When MS was mentioned in the certificates, the data revealed that urinary tract infection was the condition more likely to contribute to death, followed by aspiration pneumonia — which may occur when bacteria-containing pieces of food and drink enter the lungs — skin disease, respiratory infection, non-infectious respiratory disease, and other infections or sepsis (a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection).

Harding concluded in his presentation that “of death certificates that mentioned MS, MS was the underlying cause in 59 percent,” and that the disease “is more likely to be the underlying cause in those who are younger at death.”

“Deaths that were due to MS were commonly caused by infections and conditions that are complications of severe disability,” the team also concluded in the study.

They suggest that “interventions aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of these complications would be expected to improve survival in MS.”


  1. Candace M Mecum says:

    I have just been diagnosed with MS. I have teeth that are infected and need to be removed. I have an appt on Oct 12. I’m having surgery to fix my broken ankle on the 22nd of Oct. Should I wait to have surgery? I’m not sure what to do.. please someone help!! Thank you!!!

    • Loralyn Conover says:

      Fix your teeth first if you can. Surgery is very hard on your body. My husband had 1 cavity before he went in for surgery……. he came out of the hospital 1 month later due to all the secondary infections he got after surgery. The doctors said the cavity had nothing to do with it. I don’t believe it. Now he needs surgery on his hip (hip replacement) the first question this surgeon asked is “how are your teeth? We won’t operate on you with any gum or tooth problems.” Wow finally the doctors are catching on. Like I said if you can wait fix any gum or tooth problems first.

  2. Vivian M Callender says:

    I have already decided that my death would most likely be from an underlying condition of MS, UTI or Chronic Kidney Disease. My research, study, consultation with Neurologists and my entire history( hospitalized with a kidney infection at age 7, prior to being diagnosed, finally at age 52.) This is one of the reasons I have stopped DMT as the Rebif used for almost 4 years brought my white count down to 2 and resulted in an infection so serious was a week away from cardiac arrest due to sepsis. So…..have had to have teeth abstracted as well, no change in MRI’s from 2012, used Glatopa leading to severe eye issues requiring laser surgery and Tecidera, could not pick my head up after taking the med for a week. Yes, still have constant MS symptoms, never experienced a remission and while I dont feel great and at least not as ill as I was when on the DMT’s. Hope this information is helpful. My advice is to consult with your Surgeon, Neurologist and PCP BEFORE the Surgeon.

  3. Jana says:

    I understand you are concerned about your situation. It can seem scary. However, I would encourage you to communicate your concerns to your doctor and surgeon. Infections need to be treated in a timely manner because they could complicate your situation.

    My best advice is talk with your doctor if you are having concerns.

    Hang in there.

  4. Jana says:

    Hi Candace, I understand your concerns. I would strongly suggest getting a hold of your doctor and voicing your concerns to the doctor and surgeon.

    However, infection is one of leading causes of death regardless whether you have MS or not and must be treated in a timely manner.

    Talk with your doctor and you’ll feel better. Your doctor is the person who knows your specific situation better than anyone.

    Hang in there.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Candace, check with your doctor #1. My guess is deal with infection first and perhaps they will give you a course of antibiotics. That then gives you 10 days to try extreme rest to give your body the chance before your surgery. Your Neurologist should be able to advise you. Maybe ask what the risks are in delaying treatments and benefits of proceeding. Scary with a new diagnosis but let them know you are scared and bring a copy of this article and let them put your fears in context for you. They should support you including helping you decide on the wisest course of action. All the best in these days ahead for you! Kathleen

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This