Topic / Other MS News

People with MS have higher rates of cardiovascular disease

We have previously observed that cardiovascular disease risk factors are very similar to MS risk factors; new Swedish research confirms this is true

New research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has shown that people with MS have more heart attacks, strokes and heart failure than the rest of the population.

In a meticulous study of nearly 74,000 people in Sweden, 7,664 of them people with MS, the research group showed that those with MS, compared with age and sex-matched control people from the general population, had 85% more heart attacks, 71% more strokes, and 97% more heart failure.

While that has some important implications for doctors treating people with MS, in terms of advocating reduction of their risk factors for heart disease, of more importance is what is says about the cause of MS. At OMS we have long argued that the risk factors for MS and for heart disease are very, very similar.

This website highlights the important role of high saturated fat diet, lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet, lack of exercise, smoking and stress in the development of MS, among other risk factors, just as they have long been associated with the development of heart disease.

Prof Jelinek delivered an invited lecture to the 14th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian College of Phlebology in 2011, entitled Lifestyle modification management of multiple sclerosis may operate through beneficial vascular effects.

In this talk, he noted the similarity in risk factors between the two diseases, the added weight this gave to the similarity in causes of the two diseases, and that this further supported the fact that MS was a degenerative modern lifestyle disease like heart disease.

He further speculated on whether beneficial effects of the OMS approach of lifestyle risk modification in MS (very similar to heart disease management programs) might be operating through its beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease, that is, that heart and blood vessel disease might play a major role in how MS is caused and progresses.

This new study adds significant weight to that hypothesis, and suggests more research is needed into the role of cardiovascular disease in MS. For now, people adopting the OMS approach can be reassured that rigorously following the OMS guidelines not only reduces the risk of MS progression, but also the risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Incidentally, it also reduces the risk of depression, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and many other common western diseases. 

MS Research