“Comorbid” Conditions Appear in People with MS at Diagnosis, but May Not be Treated, Says New Study
May 15, 2023
A new study in England found that high blood pressure and diabetes were more common in people with MS at the time of their MS diagnosis than in people who don’t have MS, but fewer were on medications used to control these conditions. Identifying and addressing these types of “vascular” conditions as early as possible may improve the course of MS – see below for resources.
Take control of comorbidities: Resources
- Background: In scientific terms, having more than one chronic medical condition at the same time is called “comorbidity.” There is growing recognition that comorbidities may increase MS progression and detract from an individual’s general health and quality of life. One such comorbidity is high blood pressure (hypertension), which may be as much as 25% more common in people with MS compared to those who don’t have MS.
- This Study: A team of researchers from University College London and the University of Manitoba identified 12,251 people with MS and 72,572 people without MS who were matched by age and other factors in a large database that contains electronic medical records from general medical practices in England.
They looked at differences between people with MS – specifically at the time of diagnosis – and those without MS, in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and in the use of medications used to combat diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Results: Type 2 diabetes was 30% more common in people at the time of diagnosis with MS than in those without MS, but 56% fewer were using medications to treat diabetes. More people had high blood pressure at the time of their MS diagnosis, but 66% fewer were using medications to reduce blood pressure. The use of medications to reduce high cholesterol was 63% lower in people with MS.
- The Meaning: This study indicates that comorbidities are common even at the time when MS is first diagnosed, and these potentially serious health conditions may go untreated. Since having comorbidities can significantly worsen a person’s MS disease course, the authors recommend that guidelines be developed to work these considerations into the management of people with MS at diagnosis. For now, people with MS can follow available recommendations (see below) for general health screenings to detect possible comorbidities. Importantly, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are TREATABLE conditions, using medication and lifestyle recommendations.
- Here is a checklist to help you keep track of your general health and address issues that need attention.
“Management of vascular risk in people with multiple sclerosis at the time of diagnosis in England: A population-based study
,” by Drs. Raffaele Palladino, Ruth Ann Marrie, Azeem Majeed, and Jeremy Chataway, is published in the MS Journal
(First published online April 7, 2023).