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Multiple Sclerosis Shortens Life Span

Update Date: Jan 22, 2014 09:39 AM EST

Even though many chronic illnesses are extremely manageable due to medications, studies have found that these illnesses could still increase the risks of other diseases and potentially death. In a new study, researchers examined the effect that the immune-mediated disease, multiple sclerosis might have on one's life expectancy. According to the researchers, this disease shortens life expectancy.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, which includes the brain, the spinal cord and optic nerves. The symptoms could vary from mild numbness to paralysis or lost of vision. There is no cure for the disease but it can be highly manageable with medications and treatments.

In this first large scale study, the research team reviewed insurance claims from 30,402 people with multiple sclerosis and 89,818 people without multiple sclerosis. The researchers gathered data on participants' deaths via death records from the governments' databases.

The researchers found that the death rate for people with multiple sclerosis was 899 per 100,000 people every year. The annual rate for people without the illness was 466 per 100,000. The researchers calculated that the median lifespan for healthy adults was six years more than the lifespan for the multiple sclerosis patients.

"Our findings are consistent with what has been reported elsewhere in the world," explained David Kaufman, ScD, of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University in Massachusetts according to 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."

Kaufman worked with colleagues from BU and the University of California San Francisco, the University of Alabama, Heinrich Heine University, Care-Safe LLC and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. The study was published in the journal, Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

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