Prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis or MS is a disease that targets the central nervous system, which means basically your brain and spinal column. The disease damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects the nerve cells.

Because of the damage, the nerve cells are not able to send properly and effectively messages between the body and the brain. This results to a number of problems including weakening of the muscles, depression, visual problems, difficulties with speech, sensations of numbness, trouble with coordination and balance, and thinking and memory problems. 

The main cause of the disease has yet to be determined as well as an existence of a cure. There are medications and therapies that will slow down the progress of the disease and help control the symptoms but a full blown cure does not exists. But despite these conditions, people with MS have almost the same life expectancy as those without the disease.

It is estimated that the world has about 1.11 to 2.5 million cases of MS. In the U.S. alone, the number of people who have been diagnosed with MS ranges from 250,000 to 350,000. Among the states that have the highest cases of the disease are Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Montana & Idaho.

Northern USA belongs to the list of high frequency zones where MS is found to occur at 50-120 per 100,000 population. Countries also included in the list are Europe, Canada, Russia, Israel, New Zealand and South-East Australia. The prevalence signifies that the disease is more likely to occur in temperate climates than in tropical regions.

Western Europe is said to have 350,000 cases of MS. Meanwhile, Canada estimated that about 50,000 people have MS in their country with Alberta having the highest rates at 313 incidence per 100,000 population and followed by British Columbia at 93 cases per 100,000 population.

Other European countries that face a rather high prevalence rates of MS cases include Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Spain and Swtizerland.

A recent study also found out that the ratio of women to men with MS is 4 to 1 in the year 2000, an increase from the 2 to 1 female to male ratio way back in the 1930s.

Moreover, most of the cases of MS manifests between the ages of 20 and 40. It seems that the age of 15 is the minimum age before for the symptoms of MS to occur. There have been very few reported cases where MS began to manifest itself in patients aged 15 or younger.

MS was first identified by the French neurologist, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot way bad, in 1868. And since then, medical science has advanced a lot. But it was only about 10 to 15 years ago that the they were able to make a breakthrough in MS treatments. They found out that beta interferon 1b (Betaseron) was effective in the treating patients with a "relapsing, remitting" form of MS.

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