When two disorders or illnesses occur in the same person, at the same time or one after the other, they are described as comorbid. For example, a person with MS may experience a chronic heart problem which is referred to as a comorbidity. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that affect the course and prognosis of both.

Canadian researchers looked at a large population of people with MS in four Canadian provinces, as well as healthy individuals from the same provinces. Their aim was to identify comorbidities in people with MS at the time of diagnosis and to compare this to comorbidity in the general population.

The researchers found that comorbidity was more common than expected in people with MS, even around the time of diagnosis. The most common comorbid condition among people with MS was depression.

Relative to the general population, there was a disproportionately higher prevalence of hypertension in men with MS than women. Men with MS also had a disproportionately higher prevalence than women with MS for diabetes, epilepsy, depression, and anxiety. Future studies will look at the causes of these sex-specific differences.

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