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Chronic diseases in male veterans with multiple sclerosis.

Lavela SL, Prohaska TR, Furner S, Weaver FM. Chronic diseases in male veterans with multiple sclerosis. Preventing chronic disease. 2012 Feb 9; 9:E55.

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INTRODUCTION: Chronic disease risk may be high in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Our objective was to identify chronic health conditions that may disproportionately affect male veterans with MS. METHODS: We collected primary survey data for male veterans with MS (n = 1,142) in 2003 and 2004 and compared the data with 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System secondary data for comparison groups without MS (veteran population, n = 31,500; general population = 68,357). We compared disease prevalence by group and identified variables associated with chronic diseases in male veterans with MS. RESULTS: Overall, veterans with MS had a high prevalence of hypercholesterolemia (49%), hypertension (47%), diabetes (16%), coronary heart disease (11%), and stroke (7%). Overall and for the subset of people aged 50 years or older, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, coronary heart disease, and stroke were significantly more prevalent among male veterans with MS than among the general population. Diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and stroke were more prevalent overall among male veterans with MS than among the general veteran population; however, except for stroke, differences were not significant for the group aged 50 or older. Explanatory variables (eg, age, education, race) and dynamic associations between conditions (higher odds for each when 1 of the other conditions were present) for chronic disease in men with MS were similar to findings in the general population literature for select conditions. CONCLUSION: 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. We identified chronic disease priorities that may benefit from focused interventions to reduce disparities.

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