Thankfully, we are beginning to see an increased amount of research being conducted to examine the benefits of an overall health approach to the management of multiple sclerosis.  In particular, there is an extensive amount of work now looking into the impact of lifestyle modifications in people living with MS.  These studies have focussed on factors such as diet, exercise and wellness.  The evidence from all of this work has suggested that using these methods as part of an overall plan to manage MS can be very successful.

Data presented as part of the late-breaking news session at the recent joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting in Paris has provided further evidence for why these strategies should become more widely adopted.  In a study undertaken at the University of British Columbia, researchers analysed the presence of comorbidities (i.e. additional diseases or disorders) in 885 people with multiple sclerosis and looked to see whether there was any link with the number of relapses they experienced over a 2 year period.

Across the group, they identified a number of common comorbidities, including anxiety (40%), depression (21%), hypertension (18%), migraine (18%) and hyperlipidemia/high cholesterol (12%).  By comparing these with relapse rate, they found that people who had 3 or more extra health conditions were at greater risk of experiencing a relapse than those people with none.  They also found that people who suffered from migraines or had high cholesterol levels were more likely to have a relapse during the 2 year study period.

This information all points to the importance of making sure that the overall health of a person living with multiple sclerosis is considered when generating management plans.  Whilst finding a way to stop the disease progression is critical, the growing body of evidence suggests that it is just as necessary to ensure that mental health, stress levels and diet are also improved.

Currently, this information is only available in press releases from the conference, or in the ECTRIMS abstract (accessible here).  Once the research is published in a peer-reviewed journal, we will provide a more detailed summary of the work and the potential outcomes from it.

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