Almost twice as many young women as men are responsible for 60% of Canadian adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 49. Researchers developed an expert assessment of the most common comorbidities as well as the effective management styles available.
The researchers published in Neurodegenerative Disease Management highlight that MS is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases and is associated with widely varying degrees of disability among those affected. Young women of childbearing age are a particularly vulnerable population. They are three times more likely to have MS than young men.
At the beginning of treatment, the researchers emphasize that doctors need to consider the nature of the disease and create a long-term treatment plan that is individualized by patient and disease-related characteristics. The 5 most common comorbidities associated with MS are depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and chronic lung disease. However, little is known at what point in the disease process these factors pose the greatest risk to patients.
Expanding knowledge of the incidence and prevalence of these comorbidities in MS patients could prove crucial as they not only affect factors such as disability progression, quality of life (QOL), and mortality risk, but also cause diagnostic delays and risk May increase hospital stay and increase the risk of relapse. “In addition, comorbidities play a role in the choice of disease-modifying therapy, therapy tolerance, and long-term adherence,” the study’s authors say. The economic burden of these comorbidities was also cited, as the prevalence of MS in younger populations can affect productivity and long-term health costs.
The researchers find that optimal management of the disease requires a holistic, multidisciplinary approach that includes educating and empowering patients because MS-related symptoms are complex and interrelated. “In addition to delaying disease progression and treating symptoms, assessing and promoting quality of life and general wellbeing should be a primary goal of treatment. For many young women with MS, this remains an unmet need, ”the study’s authors say.
The authors pointed out the importance of these 5 characteristics (the 5Cs) in properly designing a treatment plan. Any plan must be comprehensive, coordinated, community-based, close to home, and care for patients with MS. The importance of a holistic, multidisciplinary approach, characterized by clinical care, patient education and the ability to research improved care for MS patients, was reiterated.
While examining the future of MS care, researchers said that incorporating a precision medicine approach that identifies biomarkers for the disease would add value to holistic care for patients. “The multidisciplinary, holistic approach represents a promising advancement of the model of caring for young women with MS. It can be extrapolated and used in other chronic diseases that require complex, lifelong collaboration between health professionals to fully support and serve patients to help maintain their quality of life, ”according to the study’s authors.
Vorobeychik G., Black D., Cooper P., Cox A. Multiple sclerosis and related challenges to young women’s health: Canadian expert assessment [published May 6, 2020]. Neurodegener Dis Manag. doi: 10.2217 / nmt-2020-0010