According to a story from Medpage Today, a retrospective study has identified signs that can predict whether a patient has a significant risk of developing severe, aggressive multiple sclerosis. These factors can help inform treatment plans and predict overall prognosis for the patient. The manifestations and progression of this disease vary significantly between patients. These risk factors can also be identified early in the disease course, often within the first year that symptoms appear.
About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows them to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.
About The Study
The study looked at reported data from a total of 2,403 patients with the disease. All of these patients had the most common relapsing-remitting form of the illness. The risk factors for severe disease that were identified during the study were moderate disability in the first year of symptoms, age greater than 35 at onset of the disease, and the presence of motor signs/symptoms in the first year. Around six percent of patients would develop severe multiple sclerosis. 32 percent of patients with all three of these risk factors developed severe disease.
This knowledge is especially important when it comes to informing treatment strategies. When doctors identify patients with all of these risk factors, they can know to skip past treatments with milder or moderate effects and try the most powerful options earlier.
Check out the original study here.