Fatigue, leg function may help predict disease progression

March 08, 2017
A new study found that in older people with MS, having fatigue and limited leg function is more often seen in people with MS progression than in those without. Researchers suggest the findings bring us closer to understanding which older adults with MS may be at higher risk of getting worse, and that this information will be vital as people with MS, their families, and policy makers make decisions about their care.
 
For the study, 155 people age 50 or older who had relapsing-remitting MS for at least 15 years were evaluated for symptoms and level of disability at the beginning of the study and then again five years later, at which point they had been living with MS an average of 22 years.
 
In all, 30 percent of people in the study had progressed to secondary progressive MS by the five-year mark. Those who progressed to secondary progressive MS were four times as likely to report having fatigue, 92 percent compared to 68 percent of people whose disease did not progress. The results were the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect disease progression, such as age, how long people had the disease and how severe their disability was.
 
Those whose disease progressed were also three times as likely to have reported limitations in leg function, such as weakness and/or spasms, at the beginning of the study, 53 percent compared to 22 percent for those who didn’t progress. Those who progressed were older at the start of the study than those who did not progress, with an average age of 55 compared to 52. They also had a higher rate of disability at the beginning of the study as well as five years later.
 
The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th Annual Meeting in Boston.

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