The BBC recently reported on new research trials being done on statins for the use of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This is a disease which affects nerves in the brain and the spinal cord, causing mild to severe symptoms, such as loss of muscular control and balance, coordination, impaired speech and vision, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties. In 2013, the MS Trust estimated that 2,500,000 people are affected worldwide, and about 100,000 people in the UK. The costs of MS can include care for people who are unsafe to be left on their own, drugs, disability pay, physical therapy, and mental health assistance, and add up to millions of pounds per year. This does not include the staggering impact on families in which one of the members relies on constant emotional and physical support.
Statins are widely prescribed for people as a cholesterol-lowering medication, and consumers have had mixed reviews in the past several years about their effects to that purpose, versus the side effects. However, the widely acclaimed medical journal, The Lancet, published findings this month of a study (completed in 2011) in which people with Secondary Progressive MS were given statins to control the rate of brain deterioration. Compared with the group that was given the placebo, the participants given the statins showed reduced brain atrophy by a remarkable 43 percent per year over the 3-year trial period.
Although the findings were measured in MRI scans and do not interpret the impacts on symptoms, it is hopeful that this will benefit MS patients by slowing the progression of the disease and easing their symptoms. Because of the positive results, the University College London (UCL) has said that that subsequent larger trials may follow to assess possible the clinical effects of the drug.
For more information on how we support people with MS, please call the Special People North office at 01625 583957, or email Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org