A systematic review of the incidence and prevalence of cardiac, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular disease in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2015 Mar;21(3):318-31. doi: 10.1177/1352458514564485. Epub 2014 Dec 22.


Background: Findings regarding the prevalence of vascular comorbidities in multiple sclerosis (MS) are conflicting.

Objective: The objective of this review is to estimate the incidence and prevalence of vascular comorbidities and predisposing comorbidities in persons with MS and to assess the quality of the included studies.

Methods: The PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS and Web of Knowledge databases, conference proceedings, and reference lists of retrieved articles were searched. One reviewer abstracted data using a standardized data collection form, while the second reviewer verified the abstraction. Included studies were assessed qualitatively. Quantitatively, we assessed studies using the I² statistic, and conducted meta-analyses for population-based studies only.

Results: The prevalence of hypertension and hyperlipidemia exceeded 10% in the MS population and increased with age. While the prevalence of ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke were less than 5% overall, the prevalence of these conditions exceeded expectations when compared to the general population. Cardiac valvular disease, however, affected the MS population less often than expected. Problems with study quality were common.

Conclusion: Despite the relatively high prevalence of some vascular comorbidities in the MS population, important gaps exist in our understanding of their epidemiology. Most of our knowledge is based on studies conducted in a small number of regions.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; cardiac; comorbidity; incidence; peripheral vascular disease; prevalence; stroke; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence