Researchers have concluded that people with multiple sclerosis in certain age groups may have a three-fold risk of an early death compared to those without the disease.
In a study published by the American Academy of Neurology, researchers from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, reported that overall people with MS may have double the risk of dying early compared to people without the disease.
The risk of an early death increased in younger MS populations. Those under 59 were at a three times higher risk compared to their non-MS counterparts.
“Despite studies that show MS survival may be improving over time, the more than 2.3 million people affected worldwide by this disabling disease still face a risk of dying earlier, specifically those who are diagnosed younger,” study author Ruth Ann Marrie, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Manitoba, said in a news release.
The Older You Get, the Less the Risk
Researchers collected data from 5,797 people with MS and 28,807 people without MS. They found that the median lifespan of someone in the MS group was almost 76 years, compared to 83 years for someone without MS. That change corresponds to a two-fold increased risk of death for those with MS, according to the study.
The study found that for those under 59 years, there was a three-fold increase in risk of death compared to peers without MS.
The risk decreases once someone is past the age of 80. There is less than a two-fold increase in risk of death in that age group.
The study did conclude that people with MS have a lower risk of dying from diabetes, hypertension, and in particular, chronic lung disease than people who don’t have the disorder.
That may be because people with MS make better use of health care services, according to the study.
“Treating other conditions better may be a way of improving survival,” Marrie said.
No Cure or Cause yet for Multiple Sclerosis
MS is a disease that affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, and it is without a cure.
The cause of MS is still unknown, though it’s thought that the disease is triggered by environmental factors in people that are genetically predisposed to the condition, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The disorder affects the central nervous system and decreases the system’s ability to function by attacking the protective coating — myelin — on a person’s nerves.
Without the central nervous system, the stream of information from the brain to other parts of the body is disrupted. The symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary depending on the person.