Mortality and Comorbidity Rates Found Higher in MS Patients, Study Finds

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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A recently published study in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders found notably higher mortality and comorbidity rates among patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) compared to those without the disease. While past studies have reported similar observations, much remains to be understood about MS patients’ risk of premature mortality and developing comorbidities such as type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Such findings may have critical implications in how the disease should be managed, monitored, and diagnosed. The study is titled, “Mortality and comorbidities in patients with multiple sclerosis compared with a population without multiple sclerosis: An observational study using the US department of defense administrative claims database“.

The investigators gathered and analyzed patient information from the US Department of Defense (DoD) Military Health System database. Comorbidities and all-cause mortality were analyzed, and causes of death were evaluated through linkage with the National Death Index. Cohorts were compared based on mortality (MRR) and event (ERR) rate ratios.

Data analysis revealed that all-cause mortality was 2.9 times higher in the MS cohort compared to the non-MS cohort. The most common causes of death in the MS versus non-MS cohort were infectious diseases, diseases of the nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems and suicide. Comorbidities including sepsis, ischemic stroke, attempted suicide and ulcerative colitis were also found to be higher in the MS versus non-MS cohort. In addition, the rate of cancers was found to be higher among the MS cohort in comparison to the non-MS, including lymphoproliferative disorders and melanoma.

However, the authors also noted that because MS tends to negatively affect patients’ socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, and entails immunomodulatory treatments, these may also be major factors in MS patients’ increased mortality and comorbidity rates.

These findings underscore the importance of improving multiple sclerosis diagnostics, as earlier detection of the disease would lead to adequate preparation of the patient and his/her family concerning the disease, and a much earlier start of treatment.

A new study entitled “Effect of Smoking Cessation on Multiple Sclerosis Prognosis” recently revealed that smoking by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) post diagnosis accelerates their disease progression course. The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology and was led by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

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