chapter  20
22 Pages

Multiple Sclerosis: Impact on Elderly People

WithJack Burks, G. Kim Bigley, Haydon Hill

In 1868, the famous French neurologist Jean Marie Charcot described the clinical and pathological features of an illness that is called multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is likely to have existed for centuries before, but it was not described in detail until the 19th century. With the discovery of new MS treatments in the past 8 years, the percentage of patients with MS who are active in the elderly population will continue to rise. As people with MS reach their 50s and 60s, the inflammatory changes in the central nervous system are reduced and the progressive degenerative process is more prominent. A “malignant” form of MS is rare. Malignant MS can result in a relentless progression coupled with severe exacerbations. Death may ensue within a matter of months or a few years. Even as patients with MS become elderly, the tendency is to relate all their symptoms to MS.