WASHINGTON — A new study has shown that people with depression and multiple sclerosis may be more likely to die over the next decade than people with just one or neither condition.
The study “Interface of Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Vascular Disease, and Mortality: A Population-Based Matched Cohort Study” is published in the journal “Neurology,’ the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study also found that people with multiple sclerosis and depression have an increased risk of developing a vascular disease such as heart attack and stroke.
“These findings underscore the importance of identifying depression in people with multiple sclerosis as well as monitoring for other risk factors for heart disease and stroke,” said Raffaele Palladino, study author, M.D., Ph.D., of Imperial College of London in the United Kingdom.
“Future studies need to be conducted to look at whether treating depression in people with multiple sclerosis could reduce the risk of vascular disease as well as death over a period of time,” said Palladino.
The study involved 12,251 people with multiple sclerosis and 72,572 people who did not have multiple sclerosis.
Researchers looked at medical records to see who developed vascular disease or died over ten years. At the start of the study, 21 percent of the people with multiple sclerosis had depression, and 9 percent of those without multiple sclerosis had depression.
The researchers found that people with both multiple sclerosis and depression had a mortality rate from any cause of 10.3 cases per 100,000 person-years. Person-years take into account the number of people in a study and the amount of time spent in the study.
The mortality rate for people with multiple sclerosis without depression was 10.6. For people who had depression without multiple sclerosis, it was 3.6, and for people with neither condition, it was 2.5.
Once researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect death’s risk, such as smoking and diabetes, they found that people with both conditions were more than five times more likely to die during the next decade than people with neither illness.
People with multiple sclerosis without depression were nearly four times more likely to die than people with neither condition, and people with depression without multiple sclerosis were nearly twice as likely to die.
For risk of vascular disease, the rate for people with both multiple sclerosis and depression was 2.4 cases per 100,000 person-years; 1.2 for people with multiple sclerosis without depression; 1.3 for people with depression without MS; and 0.7 for people with neither condition.
After adjusting for other factors, researchers found that people with both conditions were more than three times more likely to develop the vascular disease than those with neither condition.
“When we looked at the risk of death, we found that the joint effect of multiple sclerosis plus depression equaled more than the effect for each individual factor alone — in other words, the two conditions had a synergistic effect,” said Palladino.
“A total of 14 percent of the effect on mortality rate could be attributed to the interaction between these two conditions,” said Palladino.
A limitation of the study was that researchers did not have information on risk factors such as body mass index (BMI), which could affect the risk of vascular disease and death.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Ojaswin Kathuria and Nikita Nikhil
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