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Study Finds High Blood Pressure May Be Associated with MS Progression

August 15, 2016

Summary
  • Researchers from Israel looked at risk factors for heart disease in more than 2,000 people with MS, and found that those with hypertension (high blood pressure) were at greater risk for their disability to get worse.  However those with hypertension actually took longer to reach certain disability milestones than those who did not have hypertension but who did experience worsening of their MS.
  • Further study is necessary to determine whether hypertension plays any role in causing in disease progression, and whether medicines to treat high blood pressure may act to slow down progression.
  • For a person living with MS, the road to wellness involves more than treatment of the disease and its symptoms. Equally important are prevention strategies, such as checking your blood pressure. Get a checklist of preventive care recommendations
  • The team (Amir Dagan, MD, Gad Segal, MD, and colleagues at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.) has published results in the Journal of Clinical Neurology (2016 Jul;12[3]:345-350).
 
Background: In scientific terms, having two chronic medical conditions at once is called “comorbidity.” There is growing recognition that comorbidities may complicate the diagnosis of MS and also influence disease progression, as well as an individual’s general health and quality of life. In a recent study, the five most prevalent disorders occurring alongside MS were depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic lung disease.
 
The Study: Investigators looked at 2,396 people with MS who had been followed at their university’s MS center for more than 20 years. Based on clinic visits, patient reports, and medical records, they investigated whether there was any association between MS progression and several risk factors related to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), including hypertension (high blood pressure); family history of hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease; and smoking status.
 
Of these risk factors, hypertension was most significantly associated with an increased risk of disability progression. However, although more people with hypertension experienced MS progression, they progressed more slowly than people without hypertension.
 
The team (Amir Dagan, MD, Gad Segal, MD, and colleagues at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.) has published results in the Journal of Clinical Neurology (2016 Jul;12[3]:345-350).
 
Comment: The authors note that further study is necessary to determine whether hypertension plays any role in causing MS progression, and to determine whether medicines to treat high blood pressure may act to slow down progression. (Previous research in mice with MS-like disease has indicated some benefit for blood pressure medication.)They also are exploring further risk factors in future studies, such as diabetes.
 
Recommendations were released earlier this year to raise awareness of comorbidities in MS and provide the MS research community with a road map for identifying solutions that change the lives of people affected by MS.
 
For a person living with MS, the road to wellness involves more than treatment of the disease and its symptoms. Equally important are prevention strategies, such as checking your blood pressure. Get a checklist of preventive care recommendations

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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