Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (cont.)

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What is the prognosis and life expectancy with multiple sclerosis?

Patients with multiple sclerosis are felt to have the same life expectancy of those without multiple sclerosis. However, for patients with severe, progressive forms of this disease, problems caused by disability may lead to complications such as pneumonia.

If patients are not treated, over 30% may develop pronounced problems with mobility. It is not yet known what the long-term outcome of patients who begin treatment at an early stage of their disease will be.

There are two extremes in multiple sclerosis. The first is a “benign” syndrome in which patients have numerous lesions identified on MRI imaging, but have few -- if any -- symptoms, even decades after their diagnosis. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a condition identified as the Marburg variant of multiple sclerosis, where rapidly progressive symptoms are seen and death may occur after a very short time.

Can multiple sclerosis be prevented?

Without a clearly defined cause of multiple sclerosis, ways to prevent this disease have not yet been identified. Exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, or eating healthy meals will be of long-term benefit for many people, but have not been shown to be of help to prevent the development of multiple sclerosis.

What research is being done on multiple sclerosis?

Many areas related to the diagnosis and treatments of multiple sclerosis are being explored. These include more in-depth analysis of genetic factors, including factors which may help with the diagnosis and prediction of patient response to treatment options. Drugs which show promise in eliminating or preventing new multiple sclerosis lesions from forming are being evaluated; these new medications include drugs which would need to be injected, as well as drugs in a pill form. A good animal model of multiple sclerosis has not been yet developed; it is thought that a working animal model would help with the development of medications to treat multiple sclerosis. Stem cell therapy, which may help reboot a patient's immune system so that multiple sclerosis lesions no longer form, is being evaluated more closely.

REFERENCES:

National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Compston, A. and A. Coles. "Multiple sclerosis." Lancet 372.9648 (2008): 1502-1517.

Nicholas, J. A., et al. "Multiple sclerosis: Five new things." Neurology: Clinical Practice 3.5 (2013): 404-412.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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