(HealthDay News) – Male veterans with multiple sclerosis (MS) have an increased prevalence of chronic diseases compared with the general population and with veterans without MS..

Sherri L. LaVela, PhD, MPH, of the Hines VA Hospital in Illinois, and associates conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1,142 male veterans with MS in 2003 and 2004 to assess the prevalence of chronic disease. Results were compared with 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System secondary data for 31,500 veterans and 68,357 individuals from the general population – both groups without MS.

The researchers found that 49% of veterans with MS had hypercholesterolemia, 47% had hypertension, 16% had diabetes, 11% had coronary heart disease, and 7% had had a stroke. These chronic diseases were significantly more prevalent among veterans with MS than the general population, overall and in a subset analysis of the group aged >50 years.Compared with veterans without MS, the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke, was increased for veterans with MS; however, with the exception of stroke, the differences were not significant in the subgroup aged >50 years.

“These findings raise awareness of chronic disease in a veteran cohort and help bridge a gap in the literature on chronic disease epidemiology in men with MS,” the authors write. “We identified chronic disease priorities that may benefit from focused interventions to reduce disparities.”

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