Today, July 22, is the World Brain Day, a date promoted by the World Federation of Neurology (WFN – World Federation of Neurology) to raise awareness about neurological diseases and this year, with the slogan “Stop multiple sclerosis”, it will be dedicated to putting the spotlight on this pathology that affects more than 2.8 million people worldwide and about 50,000-55,000 in Spain, according to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN).
All over the world, every five minutes, a person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and in Spain, every year, they are diagnosed about 2,000 new cases.
“Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that affects all aspects of patients’ lives, with special importance in cognitive functions and physical disability, all motivated by being a disease that has multiple symptoms, among which stand out fatigue, visual disturbances, gait, coordination and balance disorders as well as memory disturbances and the ability to concentrate. Although it is a disease for which there is still no curative treatment and for which the cause that produces it is not known, early diagnosis and access to treatments that modify the natural history of the disease are vital to improve quality life span of the patient and significantly stop its progression ”, explains Dr. Miguel Ángel Llaneza, Coordinator of the Study Group of Demyelinating Diseases of the Spanish Neurology Society (SEN).
Despite this, in more than three-quarters of the countries there are problems that prevent early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis; In 7 out of 10 countries, patients with multiple sclerosis have problems accessing disease-modifying therapies; and in 4 out of 10 countries, therapies are not available for such disabling symptoms as fatigue and cognitive decline that generates this disease. These are some of the conclusions of the third edition of the Multiple Sclerosis Atlas, which has been made public on the occasion of World Brain Day in which highlights the wide disparities and barriers that exist in the world to access the diagnosis, the therapies that modify the disease and, in general, to health care.
The latest edition of this Multiple Sclerosis Atlas, which is produced worldwide, was published in 2013 and since then it is evident how the number of people suffering from multiple sclerosis has increased by more than half a million, which represents an increase of 22%. This implies that, currently, in the world, 1 in 3,000 people have multiple sclerosisAlthough in the countries with the highest prevalence, this figure rises to 1 in 300 people. In addition, the number of patients under 18 years of age has also increased considerably and there are at least 30,000 children diagnosed of multiple sclerosis around the world.
“There are various factors that may influence this increase in the world population affected by this disease, such as, for example, the simple improvement in the quality of epidemiological studies, access to techniques that allow us to confirm diagnoses more and more. precocious or the effectiveness of the treatments which has allowed to substantially improve the life expectancy of the patients. In any case, it cannot be ruled out that the risk is also increasing, and with it not only the prevalence, but also the incidence, of this disease ”, says Dr. Miguel Ángel Llaneza.
However, although the number of people with multiple sclerosis has increased, the sex and age at the time of diagnosis remain similar to those observed in 2013 and it is found that there are at least twice as many women (69%) with multiple sclerosis than men (31%). On the other hand, although the disease can debut at any age, the average age of diagnosis worldwide is 32 years, making it the most common non-traumatic neurological cause of disability in young adults.
As part of the World Brain Day 2021 campaign, entities from around the world come together on social media to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis with the hashtag # WorldBrainDay2021 and #stopMS.