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Predicting Who Will Get Progressive MS

March 13, 2017

In a recent study, researchers report they found a way for early diagnosis of MS in the progressive category. In a group of 155 people ages 50 and older, 30 percent progressed to secondary progressive MS by the five-year mark of the study.

The two things in common with all those who progressed? Fatigue and weak or spasmodic legs. 

“Study participants with those symptoms were more likely to progress from relapsing-remitting MS to secondary progressive MS within five years,” said study author Dr. Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo in New York, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Better understanding who is at high risk of getting worse may eventually allow us to tailor more specific treatments to these people.” 

Both fatigue and leg issues can be common for people with MS. Excessive fatigue is considered the most disabling symptom. It occurs in 80 percent of people with MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In addition, fatigue can lead to exacerbated symptoms such as poor cognitive function. Cog-fog, as it is often called, causes issues with information processing speed, attention, motor function, and memory.

There are not a lot of effective treatments for fatigue, especially without strong side effects. However, researchers are not giving up.

In a recent study, researchers looked at the efficacy of a personalized neuromodulation treatment, basically a form of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The study suggested that interventions could help relieve debilitating symptoms by targeting key areas of the brain. 

While the industry has seen many improvements for relapsing MS there have been little for those with progressive MS. North Africans in France progressed significantly faster than Caucasian people with MS.

In Ireland, the typical person with MS is age 54 and older. There was a preponderance of men and a greater number of people with motor onset compared with other subgroups of people with MS.

The increasing number of successful studies looking into progressive MS is hopeful, experts say.

“While more research needs to be done, this study brings us closer to understanding which older adults with MS may be at higher risk of getting worse,” said Weinstock-Guttman.

Via HealthLine