MS life expectancy and disability

MS life expectancy decline linked to worse disability

Published: 16 November 2022

The level of disability an MS patient experiences is linked to life expectancy, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people with minimal to moderate disability could expect to live another 30 years after being diagnosed, but with more advanced levels of disability, life expectancy decreases.

MS and life expectancy is studied because although it is not classed as a fatal disease, although it can increase the risk of life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.

Researchers used the data of more than 2,600 people with M who were treated in Wales between 1999 to 2018. For patients whose Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) was 3.5 or lower – meaning they did not have a substantial disability, and whose mean average age was 32.9 years, the average life expectancy was 30.9 years to age 64, which was in line with other studies.

Patients in the study with an EDSS score between 4 to 5.5 were classed as having a disability causing substantial issues in daily life but were still able to walk short distances had a mean average age of 47.3 years. This group had an average remaining life expectancy of 64 – a further 16.9 years.

Patients that needed aids to walk short distances, with EDSS scores of between 6 and 6.5, the mean age was 51.2 years and the average age reached was 64.5 – 13.3 further years.

Those with scores between 7 and 7.5 who could not walk a short distance even with an aid were aged 57.9 years on average and their remaining life expectancy with 7.6 years, taking them to 65.5.

For those with scores of 9 or higher, who were unable to get out of bed and may have communication issues, the mean average age was 70.8 years, and the expectance was just over a year.

The study’s authors did stress these ages are only averages and there are several other aspects that influence life expectancy. They also said these ages were somewhat pessimistic because they did not take into account patients who were treated early with new highly effective drugs, because most in the study were not.

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