Lifestyle a Factor in MS Survival Rates

Researchers in the UK have concluded that lifestyle and patient comorbidities play a role in whether or not patients survive multiple sclerosis (MS). Susan Jick, DSc, of the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, and colleagues, published the results from a population based observational study in the Journal of Neurology, in September 2015.

Researchers in the UK have concluded that lifestyle and patient comorbidities play a role in whether or not patients survive multiple sclerosis (MS). Susan Jick, DSc, of the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, and colleagues, published the results from a population based observational study in the Journal of Neurology, in September 2015.

Incidences of MS are increasing, but the causes of it are not clearly understood. The researchers looked at data from Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) which contains information regarding all aspects of medical care for about 8 million people in the UK in order to learn more about when MS is diagnosed, as well as whether or not the existence of other problems increased the patients’ risk of mortality.

Information about people who were first diagnosed with MS between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2006, was included. The researchers collected data about each patient’s age at first diagnosis, sex, and various lifestyle factors both before and after diagnosis, chronic conditions and comorbidities, and MS treatment. Once all of the information was collected and exclusions applied, there were 1,713 participants.

Sixty percent of the participants were diagnosed with MS between the ages of 30 and 49. The older the patient was at the time of diagnosis, the higher the risk of mortality due to MS. Those who either currently or formerly smoked and/or abused alcohol were more likely to die than those who had not. Those who suffered chronic infections or depression also faced a higher morbidity rate. Specifically, pneumonia, influenza, urinary tract infections, heart disease, and cancer were the comorbidities that posed the greatest risk.

According to the researchers, “An important objective of this study was to explore whether risk factors and comorbidities for MS interact with the underlying autoimmune process, or the drugs used to treat it, and the extent that these may influence mortality.” The found that people with MS have a higher risk of developing all kinds of infections, but it is not clear whether that risk is because of the MS or because of immunosuppressant drug treatment.

The researchers suggest that more work is necessary to compare the factors that appear to predict mortality in a population of people with MS -- smoking, alcohol abuse, pneumonia, influenza, urinary tract infections, heart disease, and cancer -- to how those factors impact the general population.