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This article aims to highlight the impact of cognitive impairment on outcomes and quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to review current evidence for the efficacy of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and other interventions. In addition, we provide clinical practice insights regarding screening and management of cognitive impairment in people with MS. Evidence suggests that cognitive deterioration often accompanies magnetic resonance imaging changes. Neocortical volume and deep grey matter atrophy correlate with cognitive impairment. Similarly, cognitive decline is predictive of a higher lesion burden. Cognitive impairment is an important clinical measure of disability and negatively impacts quality of life. Phase 3 studies suggest that DMTs such as natalizumab, ozanimod and fingolimod may provide long-lasting, clinically meaningful effects on cognition in people with MS. Further data are needed to support the use of adjunct cognitive behavioural and exercise interventions for people with MS who have cognitive impairment. More data are needed to define appropriate management strategies for cognitive impairment in people with MS. Baseline and periodic screening for cognitive impairment and inclusion of cognitive impairment as a clinical trial endpoint will help to inform efforts to manage this important aspect of MS.
The Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Working Group has updated its treatment optimization recommendations (TORs) on the optimal use of disease-modifying therapies for patients with all forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Recommendations provide guidance on initiating effective treatment early in the course of disease, monitoring response to therapy, and modifying or switching therapies to optimize disease control. The current TORs also address the treatment of pediatric MS, progressive MS and the identification and treatment of aggressive forms of the disease. Newer therapies offer improved efficacy, but also have potential safety concerns that must be adequately balanced, notably when treatment sequencing is considered. There are added discussions regarding the management of pregnancy, the future potential of biomarkers and consideration as to when it may be prudent to stop therapy. These TORs are meant to be used and interpreted by all neurologists with a special interest in the management of MS.
The objective of this study was to develop a shared-care model to enable primary-care physicians to participate more fully in meeting the complex, multidisciplinary healthcare needs of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Design: The design consisted of development of consensus recommendations and a shared-care algorithm. Participants: A working group of 11 Canadian neurologists involved in the management of patients with MS were included in this study. Main message: The clinical management of patients with multiple sclerosis is increasing in complexity as new disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) become available, and ongoing safety monitoring is required. A shared-care model that includes primary care physicians is needed. Primary care physicians can assist in the early detection of MS of individuals presenting with neurological symptoms. Additional key roles for family physicians are health promotion, symptom management, and safety and relapse monitoring of DMT-treated patients. General principles of health promotion include counseling MS patients on maintaining a healthy lifestyle; performing standard screening measures; and identifying and treating comorbidities. Of particular importance are depression and anxiety, which occur in >20% of MS patients. Standard work-ups and treatments are needed for common MS-related symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, spasticity, and sleep disorders. Ongoing safety monitoring is required for patients receiving specific DMTs. Multiple sclerosis medications are generally contraindicated during pregnancy, and patients should be counseled to practice effective contraception. Conclusions: Multiple sclerosis is a complex, disabling illness, which, similar to other chronic diseases, requires ongoing multidisciplinary care to meet the evolving needs of patients throughout the clinical course. Family physicians can play an invaluable role in maintaining general health, managing MS-related symptoms and comorbidities, monitoring for treatment-related adverse effects and MS relapses, and coordinating allied health services to ensure continuity of care to meet the complex and evolving needs of MS patients through the disease course. RÉSUMÉ:Élaborer un modèle de soins partagés dans les cas de sclérose en plaques récurrente-rémittente.Objectif: Élaborer un modèle de soins partagés afin de permettre aux médecins de première ligne de mieux répondre aux besoins complexes et multidisciplinaires de patients atteints de la sclérose en plaques (SP). Conception : Recommandations résultant d’un consensus et élaboration d’un algorithme en matière de soins partagés. Participants : Un groupe de travail formé de onze neurologues canadiens impliqués dans la prise en charge de patients atteints de la SP. Message-clé : La prise en charge clinique de patients atteints de la SP est de plus en plus complexe dans la mesure où des médicaments modificateurs de l’évolution de la maladie (MMSP) deviennent accessibles et où un suivi permanent en matière de sécurité est nécessaire. Soulignons aussi qu’un modèle de soins partagés incluant les médecins de première ligne est nécessaire. Ces professionnels peuvent permettre un dépistage plus rapide de la SP chez des individus présentant des symptômes neurologiques. Ils peuvent aussi jouer un rôle de premier plan en matière de promotion de la santé, de soulagement des symptômes et de suivi de patients traités avec des MMSP en ce qui a trait à leur sécurité et à de possibles rechutes. Parmi les principes généraux de promotion de la santé, on peut inclure les suivants : offrir aux patients atteints de la SP des conseils leur permettant de maintenir de saines habitudes de vie ; adopter des mesures de dépistage standards ; identifier et traiter les comorbidités. À cet égard, l’anxiété et la dépression sont d’une importance particulière et sont fréquemment signalées (> 20 %) chez les patients atteints de SP. Des démarches d’investigation et des traitements standards sont nécessaires dans le cas des symptômes courants reliés à la SP, par exemple de la fatigue, des douleurs, une dysfonction vésicale, des dysfonctions sexuelles, de la spasticité et des troubles du sommeil. On l’a dit, un suivi permanent s’impose dans le cas de patients bénéficiant d’un traitement spécifique avec des MMSP. Les médicaments associés à la SP sont généralement contre-indiqués durant la grossesse de sorte qu’on devrait conseiller aux patients d’adopter des méthodes de contraception efficaces. Conclusions : La SP est une maladie complexe et invalidante qui, à l’instar d’autres maladies chroniques, exige des soins multidisciplinaires continus afin de répondre, en lien avec un tableau clinique précis, aux besoins en constante évolution des patients. Les médecins de première ligne peuvent jouer un rôle irremplaçable à plusieurs égards : dans le maintien d’une bonne santé ; le suivi et le soulagement des symptômes et des comorbidités reliés à la SP ; le suivi des rechutes et des effets indésirables associés aux traitements. N’oublions pas non plus la coordination des services paramédicaux afin d’assurer, durant l’évolution de la SP, une continuité des soins répondant aux besoins complexes et en constante évolution des patients atteints de cette maladie.
Objective: The Minimal Assessment of Cognitive Function in Multiple Sclerosis (MACFIMS) is a consensus-based collection of neuropsychological tests that evaluate cognitive functioning in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The tests are typically scored using each respective published test manual, leaving the examiner to make interpretations from norms derived from different American populations. Given demographic differences, this may lead to misinterpretation of findings in Canadians. Our goal was to establish both discrete and regression-based normative data for the MACFIMS based on a largely co-normed Canadian population to allow for improved psychometric interpretation. Methods: MACFIMS data sets were aggregated from across three different Canadian cities (Ottawa, Toronto, and London), yielding a total of 330 healthy control participants from four different studies evaluating cognition in individuals with MS. Given the variety of contributing studies, there was variability in terms of the number of participants completing each measure. Results: Both age-based discrete normative data and demographically adjusted (sex, age, and education) regression-based formulae were established. The demographic variables varied in their contribution to each MACFIMS test in the regression models, predicting 0 to 18% of the variance. Conclusions: Provision of these regression-based formulae will allow for more accurate interpretation of Canadian-derived MACFIMS scores by allowing clinicians to correct for all relevant demographic variables simultaneously, leading to improved clinical decision making for individuals with multiple sclerosis.
Background: A definitive diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), as distinct from a clinically isolated syndrome, requires one of two conditions: a second clinical attack or particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings as defined by the McDonald criteria. MRI is also important after a diagnosis is made as a means of monitoring subclinical disease activity. While a standardized protocol for diagnostic and follow-up MRI has been developed by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres, acceptance and implementation in Canada have been suboptimal. Methods: To improve diagnosis, monitoring, and management of a clinically isolated syndrome and MS, a Canadian expert panel created consensus recommendations about the appropriate application of the 2010 McDonald criteria in routine practice, strategies to improve adherence to the standardized Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres MRI protocol, and methods for ensuring effective communication among health care practitioners, in particular referring physicians, neurologists, and radiologists. Results: This article presents eight consensus statements developed by the expert panel, along with the rationale underlying the recommendations and commentaries on how to prioritize resource use within the Canadian healthcare system. Conclusions: The expert panel calls on neurologists and radiologists in Canada to incorporate the McDonald criteria, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centres MRI protocol, and other guidance given in this consensus presentation into their practices. By improving communication and general awareness of best practices for MRI use in MS diagnosis and monitoring, we can improve patient care across Canada by providing timely diagnosis, informed management decisions, and better continuity of care.
Multiple Sclerosis is characterized by relapses separated by periods of relative quiescence. High dose intravenous corticosteroid pulses for three to five days is the current standard for the treatment of acute relapses, but recent evidence supports the use of equivalent doses of oral therapy as an alternative. The highest single dose preparation of oral prednisone is a 50mg tablet, requiring patients to take 25 tablets a day. Questions regarding compliance with this oral regimen have been raised.
To determine whether MS patients are complaint with 1250mg of oral prednisone daily for acute relapses.
Between November 2008 and December 2009, all patients diagnosed with an acute relapse in the London (Ontario) MS clinic were prospectively identified. If treatment with oral prednisone was initiated, subjects were given a survey to be mailed anonymously to the clinic.
Sixtyeight MS relapses were diagnosed and treated with corticosteroids in 66 patients of which 60 (58 subjects) were treated with 1250mg prednisone. Fifty-three (91.4%) surveys were returned. The reported compliance rate was high at 94.3% (50/53) with only one patient reporting being unable to take all the required pills due to intolerance. Most subjects (43, 86.0%) encountered at least one side effect, most commonly insomnia, mood changes and increased appetite. Two thirds of subjects (69.8%) indicated a preference for oral medication for future relapses.
High dose (1250mg) oral prednisone is an acceptable therapy to MS patients for the treatment of acute relapses with a high rate of compliance.
The ability to predict conversion to multiple sclerosis (MS) accurately when assessing a patient with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) is of paramount importance.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the best paraclinical tool currently available; however the significance of a history of an event suggestive of demyelination prior to CIS presentation has not been evaluated.
Aretrospective chart review of all optic neuritis cases presenting as CIS to a single neuro-ophthalmologist in London, Ontario between 1990 to 1998 was performed. Data were collected regarding demographics, past medical history, history of present illness, and family history. Conversion to MS was determined by the McDonald criteria after ten years of follow-up. Bayesian statistics and logistic regression were used to determine the best predictors of conversion to MS from CIS.
One hundred and sixteen optic neuritis subjects were included in the analysis. After ten years, 42.2% had converted to MS. The best predictor of future conversion remained at least one brain lesion, disseminated in space, on MRI (sensitivity 0.90, specificity 0.75). However, if the subject additionally had a history suggestive of a demyelinating event in the past that had not been confirmed clinically, the specificity increased to 0.96. These two traits taken together had an odds ratio of 27.8 for conversion to MS in the next ten years (p<0.001).
A history of an event suggestive of demyelination prior to presenting with optic neuritis as CIS increases the ability of the clinician to predict conversion to MS in the next ten years.
Cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) often involves attentional deficits. The Stroop colour word test, a measure of attention, lacks current normative data for an english-speaking North american MS population. Further some authors suggest the Stroop actually measures processing speed.
To generate normative data for the Stroop colour word test that can be used for a Canadian or North american MS population and to examine the relationship between processing speed tests - the Paced auditory Serial addition Test (PASAT) and Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) - and the Stroop.
Data from 146 healthy subjects aged 18-56 was collected. age was significantly although weakly correlated with general intelligence (r=0.168, p=0.043) assessed with the North american adult Reading Test (NAART), and education (r=-0.313, p<0.001). No demographic variables were associated with SDMT or PASAT. age had a low-moderate negative correlation (r=-0.403, p<0.001) with Stroop scores. The mean (±standard deviation, SD) Stroop score was 45.4(10.4). The z-score can thus be calculated as [(X-45.4)/10.4]. if adjusted for age, Xadj = [X-(-0.47)(age-37.5)] and is substituted for X. in a comparison MS population consisting of 75 randomly selected patients from the MS Cognitive clinic, Stroop and PASAT performance were not related. a relationship existed between Stroop and SDMT scores but only 12.2% of the Stroop score variance was explained by the SDMT. Therefore, the Stroop measures selective attention independently of processing speed.
This data can be used to determine impaired attention in MS patients.
Cognitive reserve is widely recognized as a moderator of cognitive decline in patients with senile dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. The same effect may occur in multiple sclerosis (MS), an immunologic disorder affecting the central nervous system. While MS is traditionally considered an inflammatory, white matter disease, degeneration of gray matter is increasingly recognized as the primary contributor to progressive cognitive decline. Our aim was to determine if individual differences in estimated cognitive reserve protect against the progression of cognitive dysfunction in MS. Ninety-one patients assessed twice roughly 5 years apart were identified retrospectively. Cognitive testing emphasized mental processing speed. Cognitive reserve was estimated by years of education and by performance on the North American Adult Reading Test (NAART). After controlling for baseline characteristics, both years of education (p = .013) and NAART scores (p = .049) significantly improved regression models predicting cognitive decline. Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) performance showed no significant change in patients with > 14 years of education, whereas it declined significantly in patients with ≤ 14 years of education. We conclude that greater cognitive reserve as indexed by either higher premorbid intelligence or more years of education protects against the progression of cognitive dysfunction in MS. (JINS, 2010, 16, 829–835.)
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