I am having issues with very high blood pressure since shortly after being diagnosed with MS. Is this a regular occurrence? Can you tell me if other people with progressive MS have this additional health issue?
MS and high blood pressure may be related. In medical terms, having two chronic medical conditions at once is called ‘comorbidity’. There is growing recognition that comorbidities may complicate MS-related issues and influence disease progression.
Hypertension is the medical name for high blood pressure. In October of last year MS-UK published a news story titled ‘Hypertension common in MS patients’. This news piece was about a study where researchers analysed electronic health records covering 63 million people in the USA. Data from 122,660 people living with MS was compared with that of 37.1 million who do not have MS. The results found a greater occurrence of hypertension in people with MS across all ages, sexes and races.
Although the above study did not draw conclusions as to the reasons that people with MS may experience hypertension, other small studies have investigated potential causes and outcomes.
A small 2018 study from the USA titled ‘Sedentary Behavior and Blood Pressure in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis’ found that there was a significant association between sitting time and blood pressure outcomes in patients with MS.
A slightly earlier Israeli study from 2016 looked at long-term data from nearly 2,500 people with MS and whether there was an association between MS progression and other health risk factors, including hypertension. Of these risk factors, hypertension was most significantly associated with an increased risk of disability progression. As with a lot of studies, it was recommended that further research was needed.
I am sure that your health professionals are supporting you with managing your blood pressure, however it may be useful for you to know that Blood Pressure UK (a charity dedicated to helping lower high blood pressure) has some information about how to lower your blood pressure, which includes lots of healthy living advice and information. Visit www.bloodpressureuk.org/your-blood-pressure/how-to-lower-your-blood-pressure
If you were looking to increase your exercise and movement in an appropriate way, please remember that MS-UK has exercise classes, chair yoga and more as part of our online support. Visit www.ms-uk.org/ms-uk-online
Do you have a question about MS? Call our Helpline weekdays between 10am and 4pm for information and emotional support on 0800 783 0518.