Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Multiple Sclerosis
Background: Atherosclerosis is condition in which the arteries are narrowed due to a build-up of plaque. The plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, clotting material from the blood and other factors. Atherosclerosis can occur silently without any clinical symptoms, this is called subclinical atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can also lead to clinical symptoms such as heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Overview: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with an elevated risk of ischemic heart disease. People with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, have premature subclinical atherosclerosis even without vascular risk factors and as a result of this evidence, treatment guidelines recommend heightened screening for atherosclerosis in these conditions. Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie will aim to determine whether premature subclinical atherosclerosis occurs in people with MS who do not have any strong risk factors for heart disease. This work will also aim to understand if the relationship between risk factors and atherosclerosis is the same in people with and without MS. The researchers will conduct a pilot study that will enroll 108 people with MS. As part of this study, participants will complete questionnaires, undergo physical and cognitive assessment, carotid ultrasound, and provide blood samples.
Impact: It is very important to understand why people with MS have an increased risk of heart disease. A better understanding of the reasons and risk factors for heart disease will guide future efforts to prevent, screen and treat heart disease designed specifically for people with MS.
Project Status: In Progress