What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable, progressive and often disabling neurological disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS) composed of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves [1-2].
MS disease develops when the myelin —protective covering of the nerves necessary for the quick and efficient transmission of impulses through nerve fibres— is damaged .
How is myelin damaged?
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system- which normally protect against organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause diseases- attacks myelin in the CNS by mistake . This leads to small patches of inflammation around the myelin sheath that impairs the ability of the affected nerve fibres to conduct electrical impulses and MS symptoms develop. Once the inflammation disappears and the myelin heals, nerves start to work again. Nevertheless, such inflammation —or repeated inflammation bouts— may leave a scar (sklḗrōsis, “an induration”, in Ancient Greek). Many (multiple) small areas of scarring, also called plaques or lesions, appear in the brain and spinal cord in patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Sometimes, as disease evolves, the nerve fibre itself can break or become damaged and impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are interrupted .
Is Multiple Sclerosis hereditary or genetic?
While there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited, studies have shown that genetic factors make certain individuals more susceptible to the disease .
Multiple Sclerosis life expectancy
While life expectancy for people with MS has increased over time due to treatment breakthroughs, improved healthcare and life style changes, these patients may live an average of about seven years less than the general population as a result of disease complications or other medical conditions [3,5].
Who gets MS disease?
People can develop Multiple Sclerosis at any age, although it is mainly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, being more than twice as high in women than men .
1. Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024311/. Accessed 25/01/2017.
2. LDN Research Trust. Committed to trials of LDN as a Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. In: http://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/sites/default/files/what-is-ms.pdf, Accessed 25/01/2017.
3. In: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed 25/01/2017.
4. Nair M, Peate I. Pathophysiology for Nurses at a Glance. 2015, ISBN: 978-1-118-74619-6. Wiley-Blackwell.
5. Leray E, Moreay T, Fromont A, Edan G. Epidemiology of multiple sclerosis. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2016; 172(1):3-13.