Comorbidities do not raise risk of MS-related hospitalisation

Having comorbidities, or other health conditions, alongside multiple sclerosis (MS) does not increase the risk of hospitalisation for MS symptoms, a new study has found, but it does raise the risk for any-cause admission to hospital.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada wanted to discover if there was a link between comorbidities relevant to people with MS, specifically high blood pressure, lyperlipidemia (too much blood fat), diabetes, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, epilepsy, migraines and mood and anxiety disorders, and hospitalisation.

With the exception of hyperlipidemia, all of the listed comorbidities raised a person’s risk for hospitalisation for any cause. The more comorbidities present, the higher the risk. But these other conditions did not raise the risk for hospitalisation for MS-specific reasons. Interestingly, the study found a link between having two or more comorbidities and a lower rate of MS-related hospitalisation.

The scientists said the reason for this may be due to people being on medications to treat these other conditions, which may have had ‘pleiotropic effects’, which means effects other than the originally intended ones. They gave examples of two medications, statins and metformin, used to treat high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes respectively, both of which have been suggested by previous studies to have beneficial effects on MS.