Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy: Explained (2023)

Louis A. Cona, MD
Updated on
Sep 8, 2023

Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy: Explained (2023)

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This article delves deep into current research on life expectancy for individuals diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. We examine the effects of various factors on life expectancy by thoroughly reviewing numerous medical studies and patient testimonials. Our aim is to heighten awareness and understanding about this condition.

MS Life Expectancy Statistics

Some unique statistics related to multiple sclerosis (MS) include:

  1. Life expectancy: People with MS have a reduced life expectancy by approximately 6-10 years compared to the general population. For a cohort of 35-year-old women with MS in Australia, the mean life expectancy was found to be 42.7 years, which is 7.5 years less than the general Australian population.
  2. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs): QALYs represent the number of years lived in perfect health. In a study conducted in Australia, the undiscounted QALYs for people with MS were 28.2, which is a loss of 13.1 QALYs compared to the general population.
  3. Lifetime costs: The total discounted lifetime societal costs for a hypothetical cohort of Australians with MS were estimated to be $942,754.
  4. Prevalence: MS was mentioned in 0.28% of the total 643,125 deaths reported in British Columbia, Canada, between 1986 and 2009.
  5. Impact of cognitive-behavioral group therapy: A study found that cognitive-behavioral group therapy significantly improved pain self-efficacy and life expectancy while reducing fatigue and depression in patients with MS.

Multiple Sclerosis Life Expectancy

According to a study published in 2022, the median survival time of newly-diagnosed MS patients without severe disabilities is approximately 30-35 years. However, life expectancy varies depending on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, which measures the level of disability in MS patients. For example, upon loss of independent ambulation (EDSS 6-6.5; mean age 51.2), life expectancy was 13.3 additional years. At EDSS 9-9.5 (mean age 70.8), life expectancy was 1.1 additional years. It is important to note that life expectancy can vary depending on individual factors and treatment options.

What are the Factors Affecting Life Expectancy for MS Patients?

Factors that affect life expectancy with multiple sclerosis can be related to individual characteristics and lifestyle. Some of these factors include:

  • Disability status: Life expectancy varies depending on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, which measures the level of disability in MS patients. For example, upon loss of independent ambulation (EDSS 6-6.5; mean age 51.2), life expectancy was 13.3 additional years. At EDSS 9-9.5 (mean age 70.8), life expectancy was 1.1 additional years.
  • Depression: Depression has been found to have a major impact on physical health quality of life (PHQOL) in MS patients[1]. Depression can also affect overall health and well-being, which can impact life expectancy.
  • Socioeconomic factors: Socioeconomic factors such as employment, income, and education have been found to be associated with MS patients' quality of life[6]. A study found that all types of working-life sequences had lower odds for university education compared with Stable High Activity.
  • Psychological factors: Personal and psychological factors such as defense styles, sense of coherence, and family relations have been found to affect physical health quality of life (PHQOL) in MS patients.
  • Compliance with therapeutic regimen: Compliance with therapeutic regimen can affect the progression of the disease and overall health outcomes[3].

It is important to note that life expectancy can vary depending on individual factors and treatment options. Therefore, it is important for MS patients to work with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their individual needs and lifestyle.

Lifestyle Changes to Increase Life Expectancy

Lifestyle changes can improve life expectancy and quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Some of these changes include:

  1. Diet: A healthy diet can help manage symptoms and improve overall health. Restricting saturated fat intake has been shown to improve the clinical status of MS patients[3]. Consuming omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly from fish, has been associated with a decreased risk of CNS demyelination. It is essential to maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  2. Physical exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to improve physical fitness, reduce disease severity, and slow down disease progression in people with MS. Aerobic training can lead to an anti-inflammatory effect in the blood, which may be beneficial for MS patients. Physical exercise also plays a moderating role in the impact of disability on depression in MS patients.
  3. Stress management: Managing stress through relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help improve mental health and overall well-being in people with MS.
  4. Sleep: Ensuring adequate sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Good sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimizing the sleep environment, can help improve sleep quality.
  5. Smoking cessation: Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on overall health and life expectancy in people with MS.
  6. Maintaining a healthy weight: People with MS are at a greater risk of malnutrition, being both underweight and overweight compared to the general public[6]. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity can help improve overall health and well-being.
It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals before making significant lifestyle changes, as individual needs and circumstances may vary.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is known to be a debilitating neurological disease, causing damage throughout the brain and spinal cord. We aim to enhance your understanding of this condition, its causes, symptoms, and impacts, and finally discuss the various treatment options available.

Defining Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It begins when the immune system mistakenly attacks a fatty substance called myelin that coats nerve fibers to protect them. This damage disrupts the smooth flow of electrical impulses along the nerves, leading to a variety of physical and cognitive symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis

The specific causes of Multiple Sclerosis remain unknown; however, a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors seems to be involved. Certain risk factors such as age, gender, family history, certain infections, race, climate, and even smoking have been linked to the development of the disease.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The symptoms of MS can vary widely from person to person and depend on the area of the CNS predominantly affected. The most common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty walking, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms, weakness, problems with coordination and balance, and issues with memory and concentration.

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

The non-specific nature of MS symptoms often makes diagnosis a challenge. However, a thorough medical evaluation combined with certain diagnostic tests can help.

Medical History Evaluation

The first step to diagnosing MS usually involves a comprehensive evaluation of medical history. We, as healthcare providers, will ask in-depth questions about symptoms, their onset, duration, and any possible factors that may affect them.

Physical Exams

Healthcare professionals will conduct physical examinations to assess motor, sensory, balance, and coordinating functions, along with other neurological tests to assess mental, emotional, and language abilities.

Imaging Tests

Image tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are extensively used to view detailed images of the brain and spinal cord, which can highlight areas of MS-related damage.

Lumbar Puncture

In some cases, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be required. This test analyses the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, to detect abnormalities linked to MS.

Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis

While there is no cure for MS, several treatment strategies can manage symptoms, modify disease progression, and improve the overall quality of life.

Medication Therapies

Medications for MS aim to manage acute attacks, slow disease progression, and manage symptoms. Immune system-modifying drugs are often used in the long term to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Therapy programs are recommended to help improve strength, mobility and daily functioning. Therapists work to develop individualized programs that meet patient-specific needs.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Healthy living habits such as regular exercise, balanced diet, enough sleep, and avoiding smoking can significantly improve overall well-being and resilience.

Life Expectancy for Those With Multiple Sclerosis

The effect of MS on a patient's lifespan is a topic of much research and discussion.

Average Life Expectancy

While MS is a serious condition, it's important to note that many people with MS have a lifespan nearly as long as those without the condition.

Factors Influencing Life Expectancy

Various factors such as the type of MS, the patient’s age at onset, treatment, and the patient's general health have an impact on life expectancy.

Improvements in Life Expectancy

Over the years different therapies and better health care have improved the life expectancy of people with MS.

Impact of Multiple Sclerosis on Quality of Life

Living with MS can mean changes physically, emotionally and socially, which can greatly affect one's quality of life.

Physical Impacts

Physically, individuals may have difficulty with mobility and carrying out daily tasks. The unpredictable nature of the disease can increase the physical strain.

Emotional and Psychological Effects

Living with a chronic illness can be emotionally challenging. Feelings of anxiety and depression are common among individuals with MS.

Social Challenges

MS can have a major impact on a person's social life, affecting relationships, career, and overall life plans.

Ways to Improve Quality of Life

While living with MS can be challenging, there are ways to manage symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity has benefits such as strengthening muscles, improving mood, and enhancing overall well-being.

Healthy Eating Habits

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help boost energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, and support overall health.

Stress Management

Learning to effectively manage stress can help control MS symptoms and enhance quality of life. Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation can be effective.

Support Groups

Support groups provide a platform for sharing experiences and gaining insights from others who are living with MS.

Effect of Progression Rate on Life Expectancy

The progression rate of MS varies significantly among individuals, impacting life expectancy.

Progression Rate Determination

This rate differs from person to person and determining it can be complex. It often depends on factors such as the type of MS and the effectiveness of treatment.

Fast Progression vs Slow Progression

Individuals with a slower progression tend to have a better prognosis compared to those with a faster progression rate.

Impact of Disease Modifying Therapies on Progression

Various disease-modifying therapies have been shown to slow the progression of MS, which can improve life expectancy.

Gender Differences in Life Expectancy

Gender Statistics in Multiple Sclerosis

MS is more prevalent in women than men. Even so, men often experience a more aggressive form of the disease.

The Effect of Gender on Life Expectancy

Studies indicate that men with MS may have a somewhat lower life expectancy compared to women with the disease.

Gender and Treatment Outcomes

Research indicates that treatment outcomes can differ based on gender, partly due to differences in hormonal profiles between men and women.

Importance of Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of MS plays a vital role in managing the disease and controlling its progression.

Impact of Early Diagnosis on Life Expectancy

Early diagnosis allows for earlier intervention, which in turn, can slow disease progression and improve life expectancy.

Improved Treatment Possibilities

With early diagnosis, treatment options are more varied, and the effectiveness of treatments is often higher.

Better Management of Symptoms

Early diagnosis can help patients in managing symptoms, thereby improving daily life and functionality.

Future Research and Advances

Ongoing research and advances in understanding MS offer hope for improved treatment strategies and ultimately, a cure.

New Treatments Under Study

Numerous experimental therapies are currently being studied, which could potentially offer more effective and targeted treatments for MS.

Improving Prognosis

Advances in healthcare and targeted therapies are central to improving the prognosis and quality of life for those living with MS.

Role of Genetics in Research

The role of genetic factors in MS development is being explored, which may help in identifying individuals at risk and designing more personalized treatment plans.

The spectrum of living with Multiple Sclerosis is vast and complex, with research continually evolving our understanding of it. Our collective goal remains to improve the prognosis, quality of life, and one day find a cure for this chronic disease.

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