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Setting Goals in MS Means Achieving the Best Outcomes

Overview

Published: 06/21/2016

by Arielle Duke

Patients should speak with their doctor to find a treatment that works best for them so they can live the life they choose, and not one dictated for them by their disease.

Canada has one of the highest prevalence rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, with more than 100,000 Canadians living with the disease, and nobody knows why.

MS is an unpredictable, often debilitating disease of the central nervous system, causing inflammation and damage. Symptoms of the disease are burdensome, and include extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes. Despite the risk of relapses and progression of disability over time, some patients opt to not treat.

“People living with MS sometimes see barriers in taking medications, such as injection site reactions, flu-like symptoms and liver issues. Patients ponder whether to take medications that can cause side effects and sometimes prefer to 'wait and see',” says Dr. Marcelo Kremenchutzky, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in London, Ontario. “However, research shows that early diagnosis and early treatment is the best course of action to prevent tissue damage before any problems occur and become irreversible.”

Determining treatment goals

The most important goals MS patients and their doctor should work towards are:

• Reducing the number of relapses,

• Slowing down disability progression, and

• Reducing the number of brain lesions.

“Patients can achieve their goals by speaking with their doctor and determining what treatment options are right for them. One way to help patients achieve their treatment goals is to treat MS early and stay on treatment to maximize the benefit that can be gained from treatment, and evaluating their treatment,” says Dr. Kremenchutzky. “Newer treatment regimes, like Plegridy may help patients adhere to taking their treatment, as it has a once-every-two-week dosing schedule. A common reason for not taking treatment is forgetting to take it, but less frequent dosing options may contribute to patients compliance in adhering to their medication.”

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