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SPMS Patients Have Higher Illness Burden than RRMS Patients

June 14, 2017

There are many different forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS). RRMS is characterized by relapses and remission of symptoms, while PPMS is when the illness progresses continuously without any remission. Patients who initially have RRMS followed by a progressive phase are diagnosed with SPMS. According to the study, “Characteristics, burden of illness, and physical functioning of patients with relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: a cross-sectional US survey,” patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) have a higher burden of illness than patients with RRMS. The study was published in the journal, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

SPMS patients have described their disease as more severe than RRMS, and reported neurological symptoms more frequently. Patients with SPMS have a poorer prognosis, since it’s associated with severe and irreversible disability. They have higher hospitalization rates than RRMS patients, use disease-modifying drugs less frequently, and suffered higher activity impairment than their counterparts with RRMS. Also, there are more studies that investigated RRMS than SPMS, limiting knowledge about the burden of illness and demographic data regarding SPMS patients. Furthermore, therapeutic options for RRMS patients have increased, while they haven’t for SPMS patients.

The survey used patient responses from the 2012 and 2013 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey to determine differences in severity of disease, symptoms, healthcare resources, use of disease-modifying drugs, and demographics between SPMS and RRMS patients. They also analyzed a 36 question form about work productivity and activity impairment. The results overall demonstrated that SPMS patients have a greater burden of illness, wore disease severity, more neurological symptoms, a higher hospitalization rate, greater work and activity impairment, and significantly worse physical functioning than RRMS patients.  

Via MS NEWS TODAY