SYRACUSE, NY – Syracuse has the nation’s highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis, according to a new study.
An analysis of medical claims by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association found the multiple diagnosis rate in Syracuse in 2017 was 45 per 10,000 commercially insured people. By comparison, the national multiple diagnosis rate was 24 per 10,000 people, while the rate for New York state was 31 per 10,000 people.
The study does not explain why the rate is so high here. “It’s a mystery,” said Ieva Doyle, regional communications manager for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Multiple Sclerosis is a lifelong disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the body’s ability to send neurological signals between the brain and other parts of the body. Multiple Sclerosis symptoms vary, but often include progressive physical and cognitive decline. The cause of the disease is unknown. While there is no cure for the disease, there are drugs that can slow its progression.
Syracuse TV weatherman Dave Longley has waged a very public battle against MS. He went off the air in 2016 and took a behind-the-scenes job at WSYR-TV Channel 9 because a tremor in his voice caused by MS was getting worse.
More than one-half of people with MS also suffer from musculoskeletal conditions such as neck and back pain.
The report also found commercially insured Americans with MS are:Three times more likely to have behavioral health conditions, including major depression and substance abuse disorder. Two to three times more likely to experience chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.