Background:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) typically presents in young adulthood. Recent data show the highest prevalence of MS in people aged 55 to 64 years; however, there are limited studies of this population.

Methods:

Administrative US claims data from IBM-Truven MarketScan commercial and Medicare databases (2011–2017) were analyzed. People with MS 50 years or older were assigned to the aging MS cohort (n = 10,746). The matched controls were people 50 years or older without MS (n = 10,746). Multivariable models compared outcomes between groups.

Results:

Infections were more frequent in the aging MS cohort vs matched controls (61% vs 45%; P < .0001); urinary tract, acute upper respiratory tract, and herpes zoster were the most frequent infection types. Malignancy rates were 20% for both groups (P = .8167); skin, breast, and prostate malignancies were the most frequent types. Skilled nursing facilities (aging MS cohort, 12%; matched controls, 3%; P < .0001) and MRI (aging MS cohort, 87%; matched controls, 37%; P < .0001) were used more frequently in the aging MS cohort; brain and spine were the most frequent types of MRI in the aging MS cohort. Time to first cane/walker or wheelchair use was shorter in the aging MS cohort (cane/walker use: HR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.9–2.3; P < .0001; wheelchair use: HR, 6.9; 95% CI, 6.0–8.1; P < .0001).

Conclusions:

In people 50 years or older, measures typically associated with worse health primarily resulted from having MS rather than being a consequence of aging alone.

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