MS diagnosis fall and patients are living for longer

MS diagnosis fall and patients are living for longer

Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is falling in the UK and people with the condition are living for longer, new research has found.

The study, conducted at the University of Dundee, found that in the 20 years up to 2010 the number of people diagnosed with MS fell by an average of three per cent each year.

However, the number of patients managing the disorder rose by 2.4 per cent thanks to improved mortality rates.

Some 6,000 people were diagnosed with MS during 2010, while almost 127,00 people had the condition across the country.

Dr Isla Mackenzie, who led the research, said: "This study provides an up to date national picture of the epidemiology of MS in the UK.

"It is important to have this information on the prevalence of MS in order to understand the impact of this disease and to ensure that adequate resources are provided both nationally and regionally for people affected by MS."

The study also highlighted that MS is more common in women than men (accounting for 72 per cent of cases) and more prevalent in Scotland than in other parts of the UK for reasons which are not quite clear.

Dr Jonathan O'Riordan, a consultant neurologist Dundee's Ninewells Hospital, told the BBC that the environment and generic factors are probably at play with Scottish patients.

He added that the majority of newly diagnosed patients have a relapsing remitting form of MS and are eligible for consideration for disease modifying treatments. However, costing between £5,500 and £20,000 a year, these therapies have serious cost implications for health care providers.

MS is a debilitating condition where the body's own immune system attacks the myelin coating on nerves in the spinal cord and the brain.

It can affect people of all ages, but typical diagnosis is made between 40 and 50 years of age.

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