People with multiple sclerosis (MS) show a high occurrence of comorbidities — two diseases occurring in one person at the same time — with psychiatric and cardiovascular diseases being the most common, a new study reports.
Having another co-existing disorder was found to have an impact on MS progression, which highlights the key role played by comorbidities when decisions about treatments are made.
The study, “The prevalence of comorbidities in patients with multiple sclerosis: population-based registry data,” was published in the journal Neurological Sciences.
Comorbidities occur frequently in people with MS, oftentimes having a great impact on their lives. However, there are only limited data about the frequency and global distribution of such co-occurring diseases, as well as their relationship with the different MS types.
To address these gaps, a team led by researchers at the University of Belgrade, in Serbia, determined the prevalence (occurrence) of the most common comorbidities in a population of Serbian MS patients. The researchers also examined the impact of these co-existing disorders on MS disease progression.
In total, data from 2,725 patients, with a mean age of 55.8 years, were analyzed. Of these patients, 62.9% had relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), 24.1% had secondary progressive MS (SPMS), and 13.0% had primary progressive MS (PPMS).
Among the list of comorbidities explored by the researchers were cardiovascular diseases — disorders of the heart and blood vessels — malignant disorders, and autoimmune diseases, as well as type 2 diabetes and epilepsy. The team also examined psychiatric disorders. The prevalence of each was calculated according to age, gender, and MS type.
Of the patients analyzed, 534 had been treated with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) to reduce the activity and progression of MS. A total of 457 patients were given interferon beta (available under several brand names), 72 received glatiramer acetate (sold as Copaxone and Glatopa), and 80 were treated with Novantrone (mitoxantrone).
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