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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Good News on Age and Developing Secondary Progressive MS

By January 29, 2013

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I first heard (and posted) this information for the <a href="http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx">National Multiple Sclerosis Society</a> as a part of my coverage of the European Congress on Multiple Sclerosis Research and Treatment (ECTRIMS) in October 2012. I can't stop thinking about this data and I thought I'd run a summary and link to the full blog, in case you missed it the first time.

The bottom line is that researchers in Lebanon, Turkey and the US found that our age impacts our chances of developing progressive MS. SPMS is typically diagnosed at an average age of 45 years, plus or minus 10 years, regardless of when people are diagnosed with RRMS. Interestingly, primary-progressive MS also tends to be diagnosed at the same age.

What does the "age effect" of the risk of progressive MS mean in terms of risk of developing SPMS?

  • Although it seems logical that the longer you live with RRMS, the closer you may be getting to converting to SPMS. Once you are older than 45, this does not seem to be the case. In fact, the opposite is true.
  • Once a person with RRMS is older than 45, their risk of converting to SPMS drops to 35%.
  • A person older than 50 only has a 20% risk of developing SPMS.
  • After age 60, the risk of SPMS conversion drops to 7%.
  • After 75 years of age, if a person with RRMS has not developed SPMS, it is extremely unlikely (less than 1% chance) that they will develop SPMS.
  • Based on the data, researchers estimate that between 43-38% of people with RRMS will never develop SPMS, even if they are followed until they are 75 years old.

I find this data fascinating and encouraging. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these findings in the comments section below.

Here's a link to the full blog: Will we all develop secondary progressive MS?


January 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(1) Graham says:

I am 56. At 54 had prob with L/eye. Was told at my age not to worry, because it won’t go any-wear. 8 months ago the tingling the tight legs can’t teach salsa anymore, still not been told exactly what I’ve got. I think personally that no one has a clue? So you get messed about until you get so fed up that you don’t bother them anymore, and search alternative help like (Tai chi) MRI December results feb, if I’m lucky. Then probably 6months while they make up there mind???? (Sure this will be ignored)

January 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm
(2) Judy says:

You made my day.

January 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm
(3) Debbie D says:

This is an interesting topic. However, there are many MS patients who exhibited symptoms years before our diagnosis. I was exhibiting symptoms in my late 30s-early 40s. My first real indication came up when I was 50 years old, and it took me 3.5 years beyond that before I got diagnosed.
So how do we judge when we really had MS? When the doctor-gods proclaimed it so? Or when we felt these odd sensations and were brushed aside like a gnat by the neurologist?

January 30, 2013 at 8:42 am
(4) Linda says:

Best news ever.

When I was diagnosed with RRMS at 45, a “helpful” nurse sat me down and said “I want to let you know how this usually develops because you seem like the kind of person who’d rather know. You can count on about ten good years, and then things will begin to go downhill and you won’t recover from your relapses.”

I’ve faithfully stuck to my meds and made some major lifestyle changes since I heard that “diagnosis.” I haven’t had a relapse in almost three years.

I want to prove her wrong. This news gives me hope that I will!

February 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm
(5) Sandy says:

That’s very encouraging!!
I was diagnosed with RRMS when I was 27 years old and now 14 years have passed and I have only had 2 relapses. My only problem is that the relapses have left me with almost no feeling in the tips of my fingers and the fatigue is a killer. During this time, I have made lifestyle changes and have yet to take any medications for it! I am happy to say that I have an amazing doctor who is very understanding and encouraging.

March 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm
(6) Jane L. says:

My thoughts are, “I’d LOVE to read that journal article!” Please cite your sources so I can share this wonderful news with all my MS buddies!

July 25, 2013 at 1:43 am
(7) MS CURE says:

Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send
you an e-mail. I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

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