MS Comorbidities Toronto 2015

My comorbidity talk from the NMSS-ECTRIMS meeting in Toronto. #MSBlog #MSResearch

“As promised the following is my presentation from the NMSS-ECTRIMS comorbidities meeting in Toronto. I found preparing this presentation very difficult. I am sure I delivered on the brief. Overall the meeting made me think a lot of about how we treat MS and I will now need to update my comorbidities line on my tube map. The meeting also made we realise that if we want to optimise outcomes for MSers we need to actively and aggressively target comorbidities and health. Poor health behaviour is not only a general problem, but is a big issue in MSers as it contributes to poorer outcomes and is exacerbated by reduced activity and psychiatric problems (depression and anxiety) that impact on motivation.”

“When I was on my recent trip to Australia several MS clinical nurse specialists asked me why we don’t post more on diet and MS. The reason is there is not much research in this field and this is not really our area of expertise. After attending this comorbidity meeting I now realise that I have to get up to speed on diet as this is a large component of any health initiative. I also realise I better walk the talk and sort out my own lifestyle; how can I tell MSers how to live if I don’t swallow my own medicine?”

“The following is the programme from the meeting; you may need to see it to put my talk into the correct context.”

CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • I am pleased to see that you are considering diet. It is a game changer for me that I have adopted a diet of good fats, plenty of veg, protein and non gluten carbs. Still have MS symptoms but fatigue reduced to the extent that walking miles now (ps exercise nd mindfulness too and you mentioned them too) I hope you accept my comment

    • Re: "I am pleased to see that you are considering diet. …"

      We are what we eat. It sounds as if you are an MSer who was 'unhealthy' and with lifestyle modification and a change in health-related behaviours you now feel 'healthy'. Is that a correct assessment Vincentina?

  • Psychiatric co-morbidity? Yes, there must be clinical reasons for depression, but having an incurable disease is a life changing effect on our mental health. We have to fight discrimination, deal with relationship break ups, financial difficulties, that said, like everyone else bereavement.
    Our problems happen in the healthy population, for us it is ten times worse. If our main carer leaves or dies, who will push our wheelchair? It is too simplistic to just associate depression as a symptom of the disease. This is a depressing post I know, but we sure are entitled to be a bit down occasionally. The answer is to ask for help as soon as possible.

  • When I think of comorbidities, I think of co-existing conditions ( osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes etc) rather than side effects of medications used to treat the condition.

  • Hi again I certainly feel "healthier" to the extent that I can enjoy things like hill walking albeit modified from my pre MS state. I can't emphasise diet enough – if I fall off the wagon as it were then I get symptoms especially with sugar and gluten (however this might be linked to birthday parties ;))

  • I have followed the Jelinek plan for the last year and feel so empowered! And have much more energy. The research in this area is really interesting. As a clinician in the NHS I would only follow evidence based medication/lifestyle changes. Glad you are discussing.

By Prof G



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