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People with MS and Depression Have Increased Risk of Other Conditions – Healthy Behaviors May Minimize Risks

September 1, 2021

A new study that reviewed records from thousands of people with MS and people without MS shows that people living with MS and depression have increased risk of coexisting cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke) and higher risk of premature death. The study did not look at all factors that might contribute to this association, so further study is necessary to fully understand any association between depression and negative outcomes in people with MS.
  • Many people living with MS also live with other conditions (comorbidities) like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, lung disease, and certain mood disorders (such as depression).
  • The researchers identified 12,251 people with MS and 72,572 controls without MS whose information was included in a research database in England. They looked at risks for cardiovascular disease and deaths within 10 years after diagnosis. 
  • The results show that people with MS and depression had greater risk of vascular disease, as well as earlier death by any cause, than those without MS and those with MS without coexisting depression.
  • Although the researchers took into account some factors that might affect this interaction, such as diabetes and smoking, they did not account for others, such as body weight and physical activity. Further study is necessary to understand the increase in risk, and how depression might contribute to increased risk of other conditions and death.
Being attentive to your overall health and choosing healthy lifestyle behaviors will help prevent common health conditions that can make living with MS more difficult. Interface of Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Vascular Disease, and Mortality: A Population-Based Matched Cohort Study” by Raffaele Palladino, MD, PhD (Imperial College of
London, United Kingdom) Ruth Ann Marrie, MD, PhD (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) and colleagues is published in Neurology (published online September 1, 2021). This open-access paper can be read by anyone, without needing a subscription.

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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