Four major conditions – diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and ischemic disease – have potential adverse effects on mortality and quality of life. A study of 44,000 Canadians with MS and 221,000 controls was done to determine the incidence of these disorders.

Incidence of diabetes rose more steeply with age in the MS population. Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease were similar combining all age groups, but incidence of heart disease was higher in the younger MS population. As expected, all disorders increased with age.

MS is more common in women than men, whereas the comorbidities by contrast are higher in men.

A possible explanation for the finding of detecting more diabetes and hyperlipidemia in the MS population may be more frequent health contacts for those with MS, leading to earlier diagnosis. Other explanations include physical inactivity after MS onset, and the fact that patients with MS are more likely to smoke, at least in Canada, and be overweight.

Further, these vascular comorbidities are associated with more rapid disability in MS.

Those of us who treat MS patients should take a more active role in screening for these disorders and not assume that our patients’ primary care physicians do so consistently.

See Neurology: Clinical Practice, 2016, volume 6, page 120-128. Lead author was Ruth Ann Marrie, MD.

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