This study examined mortality due to multiple sclerosis (MS) in Canada, 1975-2009 to determine whether there has been a change in age at death relative to the general population and decrease in MS mortality rates.
Mortality rates/100,000 population for MS and all causes were calculated using data derived from Statistics Canada, age-standardized to the 2006 population.
The average annual Canadian MS mortality rate, 1975-2009 was 1.23/100,000. Five-year rates for 1975-79, 1980-84, 1985-89, 1990-94, 1995-99, 2000-04, 2005-09 were: 1.16, 0.94, 1.01, 1.16, 1.30, 1.43, 1.33. Trend analysis showed mortality rates over the entire 35 years were stable (average annual percent change of less than one percent). The average annual 1975-2009 rates for females and males were 1.45 and 0.99. Five-year female rates were always higher than males. Regardless of gender, there was a decrease in MS mortality rates in the 0-39 age group and increases in the 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ groups over time. In contrast, there were decreases in all-cause mortality rates across each age group. The highest MS mortality rates for 1975-2009 were consistently in the 50-59 and 60-69 groups for both genders, while the highest all-cause mortality rates were in the 80+ group.
Changes in the age distribution of MS mortality rates indicate a shift to later age at death, possibly due to improved health care. However MS patients remain disadvantaged relative to the general population and changes in age at death are not reflected in decreased mortality rates.