Median Lifespan of Multiple Sclerosis Patients Is Six Years Shorter Than Healthy Counterparts

Researchers confirm that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients do experience a decrease in life expectancy when compared to their non-MS counterparts in the United States.

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a decrease in life expectancy compared with the rest of the population in the United States, according to a study out of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University. The study was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

The researchers analyzed health insurance claims data to identify patients with MS and a comparison group of individuals without MS with the same health plans. A total of 30,402 MS and 89,818 non-MS patients identified from the OptumInsight Research (OIR) database from 1996-2009 were included in the study. Mortality data was collected using government databases and death records. Life spans of patients with MS were a median 6 years less than their non-MS counterparts.

“Our findings are consistent with what has been reported elsewhere in the world,” David Kaufman, ScD, lead author, explained in a press release. “While the results apply only to the commercially insured U.S. population, that group represents more than two-thirds of individuals under age 65, and this is the first time an MS survival disadvantage has been shown in this country.”

In the United States, there is an MS prevalence of roughly 1 in 1,000, totaling 250,000-350,000 patients. Some information on survival patterns has come from Europe, however populations, risk factors, and medical practices vary from the United States. The study also notes that it confirms a report from British Columbia, which also stated the life expectancy was 6 years less.