Multiple sclerosis on the rise

The occurrence of “Multiple Sclerosis”, an inflammatory disorder of the human brain and the nerves, is significantly on the rise in India where it is now “largely under-recognised and under-diagnosed”, Dr Richard A Rudick, a renowned neurologist said on Saturday.

While the disease prevalence rate in the US is around one per 1, 000 population, almost as many people in India “may be affected” by this disease, Dr Rudick, Director of the Mellen Centre for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research, Department of Neurology, Neurological Institute, Cleveland, USA, said here.

Delivering the prestigious T S Srinivasan Endowment Oration, which brings to India world leaders in the field of neurology every year, he said such a prevalence level “could make its occurrence rate in India exponentially much higher than that of the US.”

Stating that the disease, which is on the rise all over the world, was a prototype “auto-immune disease” that affects the brain and the spinal cord, he added that its most recognisable symptoms include--visual loss that can last for days or weeks, inflammation of the spinal cord that can manifest as numbness from the legs right up to the hip region, difficulty in walking and loss of balance while doing so.

No longer untreatable

However, neurologists across the world in the last 15 years have made dramatic progress in treating the disease than in the last 200 years, Dr Rudick said. “The good news is that it is no longer untreatable.

“With today’s medical advances, we can completely control the disease in about 30-50 per cent of the patients,” emphasised the neurological expert who has played a key role in several clinical trials and in developing new imaging measures for it.

Even as there was growing awareness about this disease across the world, he said it affect women more than men, particularly in the age group of 15-50 years.
People in the northern latitudes who lived farther away from the equator were more prone to get this disease.

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