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High Blood Pressure is Common in MS, Says New Study: Learn How to Stay Well

October 7, 2020

In a new study of millions of medical records, high blood pressure (hypertension) was 25% more common in people with MS compared to those without the disease, for reasons that are currently unclear. Hypertension is a leading cause of illness and death, and can often be addressed with lifestyle changes and medication; this study highlights the importance of addressing chronic medical conditions that can coexist with MS and that may make their MS worse.
  • 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 increase disease progression, as well as detract from an individual’s general health and quality of life. Prevalent disorders occurring alongside MS include depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic lung disease.
  • This team examined the medical records of 122,660 people with MS and 37,075,350 people without MS in Explorys, IBM’s database that includes information from 26 major health networks in the United States.
  • The results also show that the prevalence of hypertension increased with age and was higher in black Americans and in males with 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 and treating high blood pressure if needed. 
 “The prevalence of hypertension in multiple sclerosis based on 37 million electronic health records from the United States” by Farren Briggs, PhD (Case Western University, Cleveland) and colleagues is published in the European Journal of Neurology (2020 Sep 27).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. 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. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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