How Multiple Sclerosis Is Different In Blacks

    A woman at home in a wheelchair with her nurseStudies show that while whites are twice as likely as Blacks to suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS), blacks suffer from more MS risks, and a larger variety of more dangerous symptoms.

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    Neurology researchers has found that, in Blacks, the disease progresses more rapidly – and that they don’t respond as well to therapies.

    Magnetic resonance images (MRI) of a cohort of 567 consecutive multiple sclerosis patients showed that blacks with multiple sclerosis had more damage to brain tissue and had less normal white and grey matter compared to whites with the disease.

    “Black patients showed more brain tissue damage and accumulated brain lesions faster than whites, along with rapid clinical deterioration,” confirms first author on the study Bianca Weinstock-Guttman. “The results provide further support that black patients experience a more severe disease, calling for individualized therapeutic interventions for this group of multiple sclerosis patients.”

    Since the median time to both MS diagnosis and MS onset to treatment was significantly shorter for blacks compared with the whites, it is likely that the increased risk of disability for blacks is independent of health care access.

    It has also been noted that Blacks with MS were more likely to present with multifocal signs and symptoms, were more likely to have clinical involvement restricted to the optic nerves and spinal cord (opticospinal MS), and were more likely to develop transverse myelitis compared with white Americans with MS.”

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