New statistics released by the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society show that there are more than 130,000 individuals living with MS in the UK, which translates to one in 500 individuals living with the condition. The number of new annual diagnoses has also risen from 5000 to 6700. On average, 130 new cases are diagnosed every week in the UK.
In 2010, the MS Society had estimated about 100,000 individuals having MS. The new figures could, therefore, indicate an increase in the number of people in the UK living with MS.
The prevalence and incidence of MS were calculated using data from The Health Improvement Network data set, a large UK GP registration database which represents 4.8 per cent of the nation's population.
The increase in the prevalence of MS can be partly attributed to the improved survival in patients with MS over the past 30 years. Changes to the diagnostic criteria are also likely to have contributed to the increasing prevalence. After the McDonald criteria for the diagnosis of MS were reviewed and updated in 2010 and further in 2017, a higher number of individuals have been diagnosed earlier than before.
The MS Society believes too many patients are still struggling with their condition and more efforts are needed to support them better. Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research and External Affairs at MS Society, said: "While the NHS is getting better at diagnosing and recording cases of MS, in many ways society is getting worse at supporting people with the condition. Compared to just a few years ago, fewer people with MS receive social care support and key welfare payments."