Look Beyond MS to Advance Patient-Centered Research

Often, diseases do not exist in isolation. Sometimes individual diseases may be correlated (or connected) in someway, but other times they are completely unrelated and just happen to exist at the same time in the same person. The simultaneous existence of two or more diseases is called comorbidity. For example, if you are diagnosed with MS and arthritis, you have a comorbidity.

As part of the MS Comorbidities Project, an international team of researchers conducted a systematic review of the medical literature regarding the incidence and prevalence of specific comorbidities in MS. The review includes 249 studies conducted over a 100-year time span primarily in North America or Western Europe. Results are published in an open-access special issue of the Multiple Sclerosis Journal (no subscription necessary).

Results of MS Comorbidity Review

The five most prevalent disorders occurring simultaneously with multiple sclerosis were depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic lung disease. The most prevalent autoimmune diseases occurring with MS were thyroid disease and psoriasis. The types of cancer that occurred most often in people with MS were cervical, breast, and digestive system cancers.

Some disorders were found more often than expected based on previous research, including heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, seizure disorders, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and alcohol abuse.

PCORI, Comorbidity, Research, and YOU!

A number of writers here at MultipleSclerosis.net, including myself, have encouraged you to join iConquerMS™ which is a Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN) initially funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

I hope that you have taken the time to register and begin participating in this unique patient-driven research initiative at iConquerMS.org. Everybody with MS, even those who have experienced a case of Clinically Isolated Syndrome or Radiologically Isolated Syndrome are welcome to contribute. Also, you may participate at iConquerMS™ regardless of comorbidities, treatment choices, or other factors. A complex and diverse patient population is desirable.

Expand Your Participation in Patient-Driven Research

There are currently 18 PPRNs established as part of PCORnet. The following list includes just some of the diseases which have a dedicated research network:

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Arthritis (including RA), musculoskeletal disorders, and inflammatory conditions (see Arthritis Power on CreakyJoints®)
  • Cardiovascular health (see Health eHeart™ study)
  • COPD
  • Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy
  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (see CCFA Partners)
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BP)
  • Primary Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Phelan-McDermid Syndrome
  • Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases
  • Sleep Apnea (see MyApnea.org)
  • Vasculitis
  • Pediatric-specific and juvenile onset diseases

According to the MS comorbidities review mentioned above, people with MS develop inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and certain types of cancer (including breast cancer) more frequently than expected when compared to the general population.

I highly recommend that you not only sign-up for iConquerMS™, but also explore your options to contribute to other networks. Exercise your power to advance knowledge about disease and help improve lives in patient communities by participating in research.1

Lisa Emrich | Follow me on Facebook |Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Pinterest

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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