Category Archives: Multiple Sclerosis

Italian doctor may have found surprisingly simple cure for Multiple Sclerosis

Published by:

An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain – and two years after the surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni’s thinking could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many sufferers a complete cure.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, has long been regarded as a life sentence of debilitating nerve degeneration. More common in females, the disease affects an estimated 2.5 million people around the world, causing physical and mental disabilities that can gradually destroy a patient’s quality of life.

It’s generally accepted that there’s no cure for MS, only treatments that mitigate the symptoms – but a new way of looking at the disease has opened the door to a simple treatment that is causing radical improvements in a small sample of sufferers.

Left: diagram from a medical text showing how MS affects the myelin sheathing of nerves. Right: ...

An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain – and two years after the surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni’s thinking could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many sufferers a complete cure.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, has long been regarded as a life sentence of debilitating nerve degeneration. More common in females, the disease affects an estimated 2.5 million people around the world, causing physical and mental disabilities that can gradually destroy a patient’s quality of life.

It’s generally accepted that there’s no cure for MS, only treatments that mitigate the symptoms – but a new way of looking at the disease has opened the door to a simple treatment that is causing radical improvements in a small sample of sufferers.

Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni has put forward the idea that many types of MS are actually caused by a blockage of the pathways that remove excess iron from the brain – and by simply clearing out a couple of major veins to reopen the blood flow, the root cause of the disease can be eliminated.

Dr. Zamboni’s revelations came as part of a very personal mission – to cure his wife as she began a downward spiral after diagnosis. Reading everything he could on the subject, Dr. Zamboni found a number of century-old sources citing excess iron as a possible cause of MS. It happened to dovetail with some research he had been doing previously on how a buildup of iron can damage blood vessels in the legs – could it be that a buildup of iron was somehow damaging blood vessels in the brain?

He immediately took to the ultrasound machine to see if the idea had any merit – and made a staggering discovery. More than 90% of people with MS have some sort of malformation or blockage in the veins that drain blood from the brain. Including, as it turned out, his wife.

He formed a hypothesis on how this could lead to MS: iron builds up in the brain, blocking and damaging these crucial blood vessels. As the vessels rupture, they allow both the iron itself, and immune cells from the bloodstream, to cross the blood-brain barrier into the cerebro-spinal fluid. Once the immune cells have direct access to the immune system, they begin to attack the myelin sheathing of the cerebral nerves – Multiple Sclerosis develops.

He named the problem Chronic Cerebro-Spinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI.

Zamboni immediately scheduled his wife for a simple operation to unblock the veins – a catheter was threaded up through blood vessels in the groin area, all the way up to the effected area, and then a small balloon was inflated to clear out the blockage. It’s a standard and relatively risk-free operation – and the results were immediate. In the three years since the surgery, Dr. Zamboni’s wife has not had an attack.

Widening out his study, Dr. Zamboni then tried the same operation on a group of 65 MS-sufferers, identifying blood drainage blockages in the brain and unblocking them – and more than 73% of the patients are completely free of the symptoms of MS, two years after the operation.

In some cases, a balloon is not enough to fully open the vein channel, which collapses either as soon as the balloon is removed, or sometime later. In these cases, a metal stent can easily be used, which remains in place holding the vein open permanently.

Dr. Zamboni’s lucky find is yet to be accepted by the medical community, which is traditionally slow to accept revolutionary ideas. Still, most agree that while further study needs to be undertaken before this is looked upon as a cure for MS, the results thus far have been very positive.

Naturally, support groups for MS sufferers are buzzing with the news that a simple operation could free patients from what they have always been told would be a lifelong affliction, and further studies are being undertaken by researchers around the world hoping to confirm the link between CCSVI and MS, and open the door for the treatment to become available for sufferers worldwide.

It’s certainly a very exciting find for MS sufferers, as it represents a possible complete cure, as opposed to an ongoing treatment of symptoms. We wish Dr. Zamboni and the various teams looking further into this issue the best of luck.

Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni has put forward the idea that many types of MS are actually caused by a blockage of the pathways that remove excess iron from the brain – and by simply clearing out a couple of major veins to reopen the blood flow, the root cause of the disease can be eliminated.

Dr. Zamboni’s revelations came as part of a very personal mission – to cure his wife as she began a downward spiral after diagnosis. Reading everything he could on the subject, Dr. Zamboni found a number of century-old sources citing excess iron as a possible cause of MS. It happened to dovetail with some research he had been doing previously on how a buildup of iron can damage blood vessels in the legs – could it be that a buildup of iron was somehow damaging blood vessels in the brain?

He immediately took to the ultrasound machine to see if the idea had any merit – and made a staggering discovery. More than 90% of people with MS have some sort of malformation or blockage in the veins that drain blood from the brain. Including, as it turned out, his wife.

He formed a hypothesis on how this could lead to MS: iron builds up in the brain, blocking and damaging these crucial blood vessels. As the vessels rupture, they allow both the iron itself, and immune cells from the bloodstream, to cross the blood-brain barrier into the cerebro-spinal fluid. Once the immune cells have direct access to the immune system, they begin to attack the myelin sheathing of the cerebral nerves – Multiple Sclerosis develops.

He named the problem Chronic Cerebro-Spinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI.

Zamboni immediately scheduled his wife for a simple operation to unblock the veins – a catheter was threaded up through blood vessels in the groin area, all the way up to the effected area, and then a small balloon was inflated to clear out the blockage. It’s a standard and relatively risk-free operation – and the results were immediate. In the three years since the surgery, Dr. Zamboni’s wife has not had an attack.

Widening out his study, Dr. Zamboni then tried the same operation on a group of 65 MS-sufferers, identifying blood drainage blockages in the brain and unblocking them – and more than 73% of the patients are completely free of the symptoms of MS, two years after the operation.

In some cases, a balloon is not enough to fully open the vein channel, which collapses either as soon as the balloon is removed, or sometime later. In these cases, a metal stent can easily be used, which remains in place holding the vein open permanently.

Dr. Zamboni’s lucky find is yet to be accepted by the medical community, which is traditionally slow to accept revolutionary ideas. Still, most agree that while further study needs to be undertaken before this is looked upon as a cure for MS, the results thus far have been very positive.

Naturally, support groups for MS sufferers are buzzing with the news that a simple operation could free patients from what they have always been told would be a lifelong affliction, and further studies are being undertaken by researchers around the world hoping to confirm the link between CCSVI and MS, and open the door for the treatment to become available for sufferers worldwide.

It’s certainly a very exciting find for MS sufferers, as it represents a possible complete cure, as opposed to an ongoing treatment of symptoms. We wish Dr. Zamboni and the various teams looking further into this issue the best of luck.

Breaking bad news: communication around parental multiple sclerosis with children.

Published by:

This study investigates the relation of communication around parental multiple sclerosis (MS) to family dysfunction and mental health problems of the children in Greek families. Fifty-six families with a parent with MS were studied regarding emotional well-being of children, parental depression, family functioning, and illness’ related impairment, correlated to the amount of information about parental illness provided to children. Significant differences were found in three dimensions of child psychopathology on maternal scores of Child Behavior Checklist, between children who had partial information about parental illness and the other two groups of children who had explicit or no information at all. Differences were also observed in children’s scores on (Youth Self Report) social problems between the same groups. The finding that children who had only partial information about their parents’ illness presented more problems, illustrates the importance of “how, what, and how much” of information is communicated to children. Clinical implications are discussed in terms of the families’ difficulties with communicating parental illness with their children and possible need for professional support.

7 Neil Cavuto Quotes About Multiple Sclerosis That Will Leave You Seriously Inspired

Published by:

Neil Cavuto — Fox News Senior VP, managing editor, and host of multiple acclaimed news shows — is a force to be reckoned with in the media. The journalist tirelessly hosts Fox News Channel’s Your World as well as CavutoMonday through Friday, while also providing insight into the world of finances with Cavuto on Business on Saturday mornings. He does so with a smile and seemingly tirelessly, while also battling multiple sclerosis. An equally — if not even more so — tireless advocate of awareness and research, the Fox News anchor has been consistently vocal about his diagnosis. Theseseven Neil Cavuto quotes about his illness are just a handful of many that point to a seriously inspiring figure.

Cavuto has been an invaluable resource to his colleagues as well. When fellow Fox News journalist Janice Dean received her MS diagnosis a decade ago, Cavuto was one of the first people she talked with. Dean describes him as being incredibly supportive as well as highlighting the many ways that the network would in turn support them, “even if that support included building wheelchair ramps,” she writes in an op-ed for FoxNews.com. Cavuto’s support is what has inspired Dean to also reach out to others suffering from the disease as a means of support and solidarity.

Seizing The Moment

Having MS has made Cavuto really hone in on his priorities, especially when it comes to his job as a prominent Fox Business journalist. In an interview with Fast Company, the esteemed anchor laid out exactly how he feels working in such a demanding field with a degenerative disease:

I don’t know if many people know this about me, but I have multiple sclerosis. So I don’t have time for a lot of shades of gray. I don’t have time for BS. I don’t want to play nonsense games. Ever since I was diagnosed, I’ve had zero patience for the rudeness and vagaries of life. I’ve also got a short leash when it comes to jargon.

Accepting Circumstances

Cavuto has taken a zen approach to his condition as well as how to help others who may be struggling. Ultimately, he’s realistic about MS, along with the many other circumstances in our lives that we can’t control. Cavuto touched upon this in an interview on Good Morning America for MS awareness month:

It’s not always easy but it is what it is and like things come our way that we can’t control… A disease like this doesn’t recognize either your politics or your wealth or your status, it affects everybody.

Adjusting To Life With MS

Despite having moments on-air in which he can barely see or has mobility issues, Cavuto soldiers on to host three acclaimed shows on Fox News Channel as well as Fox Business. During his GMA interview, he discussed in detail with George Stephanopoulos the ways he makes do despite the pain and in the face of bad days:

The biggest adjustment I had when I was diagnosed was understanding a limb that would go out and compensate with another limb… It gets bizarre but you read your body after a while and you realize that, hey, we can do this.

Being Nonjudgmental

Cavuto is a strong advocate for MS awareness and has championed other MS sufferers as well. Still, the journalist recognizes that pain is very real in this world and affects so many, no matter their status. In a segment defending Ann Romney, who also suffers from the disease, Cavuto had this to say about how suffering is treated across the board:

I’ve known much poorer folks who’d stop everything for a hangnail. That doesn’t make them bad. But assuming there are somehow classes to pain? Well, that’s very bad. That’s very sick. And that is very wrong. Courage is not defined by the cash in your wallet; I suspect, more, the strength in your heart.

Leading By Example

MS symptoms can worsen at any time and Cavuto understands the vulnerable position he’s in as an on-air personality expected to deliver a flawless newscast night in and night out — a tall order for even the most healthy and experienced journalist. In an interview with Vanity Fair, the Fox News Channel Senior VP discusses how those moments act as a means to teach others that it is possible to live and even thrive while still suffering from MS:

I had to show people that in my down or shaky moments — my son calls them my ‘wiggly leg’ moments — they know it and see it, but I try to show them, whether I’m on air all night for midterm election coverage or conventions, that I can deal with this.

Loving What You Do

Much of what Cavuto credits as the reason he’s been so resilient and relentless in his work is the fact that he simply loves what he does. No matter how draining or demanding the task may be, the journalist sees his job as a healthy and ultimately fulfilling distraction:

The adrenaline of covering this stuff more than makes up for the onslaught of the bad medical stuff… But I’d be lying to you if I told you that after five or six hours on the air, anchoring non-stop election or market coverage — as has been the case on more than a few occasions — I tend to just crumble into a heap when it’s all over.

Being Grateful

Cavuto’s diagnosis has brought about a gratefulness and humbleness that is incredibly inspiring. He believes that even receiving his diagnosis in the 1990s was a potentially good thing, as opposed to beginning treatment earlier and prior to more medical advancements in the field of MS research, something he touched upon in an interview with Neurology Now:

Having MS has made me look at life and death more sharply. I don’t take my success for granted, and I value the time I spend with my wife and children.

Top Ten List of Things You Should Never say to Someone with MS

Published by:

For the most part, we are all pretty nice people who want to be kind to each other. But when you have just been told that you have a chronic, debilitating, life altering disease, you are likely not feeling so great. So when someone wants to talk to about your diagnosis you likely appreciate their sympathetic comments. And they mean well, they really do. I have been on both sides of this conversation.

I was the sympathetic person wanting to make brilliant comments of hope, comfort and advice to my newly diagnosed sister, Laurie. And then, almost ten years later and newly diagnosed myself, was on the receiving end of the well-intentioned comments of hope, comfort and advice. So I know now how these comments can often make the MS’er want to scream. (See prior posting about how the movie Scream relates to multiple sclerosis.

And, if you have been recently diagnosed, you have the right to scream. But to keep you from screaming at people who really do want to help, I have come up with advice to the well-meaning. Here is Yvonne M. deSousa’s top ten list of things you should NEVER say to someone with MS.

10. Are you sure it’s not just all in your head?

9. That’s not MS-that’s old age.

8. You should look into that.

7. Oh, that’s nothing- I get that all the time.

6. You’re tired? I’m really tired.

5. You could die from this you know.

4. But you don’t look sick to me.

3. You can’t blame MS for everything.

2. Isn’t that what Michael J. Fox has?

1. How do you get one of those handicapped parking thingy’s anyway?

So, if well wishers are reading and disregarding my above list they should be prepared that the MS’er they are talking to might just start screaming. If they don’t scream, but they have lost all semblance of worrying about the feelings of others, here is my top ten list of what they might just blurt out in reply.

10. Are you sure it’s not just all in your head?

Of course it is all in my head! And a bit in my c-spine too. Sit down. Let me show my MRI.

9. That’s not MS-that’s old age.

So for some strange reason I have just aged thirty years in five seconds. I feel so much better now.

8. You should look into that.

Thing is, I am a little overwhelmed right now and that is about the tenth suggestion I have received just in the last hour on things to look into that might or might not be helpful How about you look into it and get back to me, okay?

7. Oh, that’s nothing- I get that all the time.

Really? Nothing? Damn, I have been shooting myself up with drugs made from Chinese hamster ovary cells for the fun of it. (Think I am making that up? Get a magnifying glass and look through it at a box of Rebif injections.)

6. You’re tired? I’m really tired.

Tired huh? Last night I started sobbing at the idea of brushing my teeth as my arm was too exhausted to lift the tube of toothpaste. Are you THAT tired?

5. You could die from this you know?

Dammit it! I thought this meant I was going to live forever. Geez!

4. But you don’t look sick to me.

That’s great news. Could you call my doctor and let him know? Maybe he got it all wrong.

3. You can’t just blame MS for everything.

Watch me!

2. Isn’t that what Michael J. Fox has?

No, this is the disease that Montel Williams has. You know, the disease where he wrote that book and said it was ok to smoke pot. Got any on you?

1. How do you get one of those handicapped parking thingy’s anyway?

10 Surprising Things That Increase Your Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

Published by:

Multiple sclerosis is pretty quirky as far as diseases go—and some of the nuances surrounding it continue to baffle experts. What they do know for sure: MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body misfires against its own central nervous system. A few things linked to a higher risk:

1. Your gender

Montel Williams and a few other high-profile male celebrities have been diagnosed with MS, but by and large, MS disproportionately strikes women, says Nancy L. Sicotte, MD. And the gender gap is growing: “It used to be two women to every one man, but several new studies suggest that the ratio is approaching 4-to-1,” she says. Even though the disease is more common among women (they are also more likely to get MS at a younger age), it tends to be more severe in men, adds John Rose, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Utah.winter-health-myths

2. Where you live

People who dwell nearer the earth’s poles (think Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland) are more likely to get MS than those who live closer to the equator. This is true in the United States, too: MS is about twice as prevalent in North Dakota as in Florida, for example. Researchers believe that vitamin D, or lack thereof, is the reason. Our bodies produce D in response to sunlight, so people far from the equator make less, especially during the long, dark winter months.

3. Having moved as a child

If your family relocated when you were growing up, your risk of MS may change to reflect your new homeland, whether you go from a low-risk area for MS or vice versa. However, this is true only if you moved before the age of 15.

4. Your DOB

Strange but true: Finnish researchers found that spring babies have a higher risk of MS. (In the study, an April birth was linked to a 9.4 percent higher MS risk, while those born in November had an 11.1 percent lower risk.) A possible explanation, according to Dr. Rose: “If your mother was pregnant with you through the winter, her levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may have been low.”

5. Your ethnicity

MS is more common among Caucasians, particularly those with northern European ancestry. Some groups—people with African, Asian, Hispanic and Native American ancestry—seem to be at lower risk, although they can still get the disease. MS is almost unheard of among some groups, including Australian aborigines and New Zealand Maoris, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

6. Your smoking status

We all know that puffing is bad news and that it increases the odds of lung cancer and heart attack or stroke. But did you know it’s a well-established risk factor for MS, too? Smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to get MS than people who never smoked, and the more cigarettes you’ve had, the greater your chances (people who smoke at least two packs a day have a fivefold greater risk). While you can’t erase the past, quit if you haven’t already: MS may progress more quickly in current smokers, according to research.

7. Your age

You can be diagnosed with MS at almost any time, from childhood right on up to your years as a senior citizen, but it’s most liable to strike from age 20 to 50. “MS is not an all-comers’ disease,” says Carrie Lyn Sammarco, DrNP. “We don’t tend to see it in children, although it can occur.”

8. You’ve had mono

Many germs have been studied as possible MS triggers, but the results have been mixed. There is, however, a growing body of evidence that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis, is a culprit. A Journal of the American Medical Association study found higher levels of EBV antibodies in people with MS. (About 90 percent of people are infected with EBV at some point, although not all get symptoms.) And researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit found that a history of EBV is more common among people with MS. While it’s not certain whether the virus causes MS, “a relationship is clearly present,” they concluded.

9. You have another autoimmune condition

Autoimmune diseases tend to cluster, so if you have one, you may develop others. That means if you have inflammatory bowel disease or type 1 diabetes, you may have a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed with MS, too. (The link isn’t as strong with some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.) “Genes seem to haywire the autoimmune system,” Dr. Rose explains.

10. Your family tree

While environmental factors have an impact on your chances of developing this disease, so do genetics. “If a mom or dad has MS, their children have between a 5 and 10 percent chance of getting it,” Dr. Rose says. The MS risk is 1 in 750 for most people, 1 in 40 for those with close family members with the disease and 1 in 4 for those with an identical twin who has it.

Multiple Sclerosis, Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s Autoimmune Disease, Explained

Published by:

In a People magazine interview on this week, Jamie-Lynn Siglerrevealed that she has had multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, for the past 15 years.

“You’d think that after all these years, somebody would be settled with something like this.” Sigler told People. “It’s still hard to accept.”

What is multiple sclerosis?

MS is a degenerative nervous system disease, in which the immune system attacks it’s own nerve cells, slowing down messages between the brain and the rest of the body. No one knows what causes MS, but symptoms — which differ from person to person, but typically include muscle weakness, coordination and memory problems and a tingling or electric-shock sensation — usually start between the ages of 20 and 40, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

There are currently 400,000 people in the United States living with MS. Women are twice as likely to develop the disease as men are, and individuals from Northern European decent, especially those who live in temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, Europe and southeastern Australia are at an increased risk, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While there’s no cure for MS, medication and physical and occupational therapy can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

Over the past decade, Sigler said her symptoms flared up, making walking long distances difficult and running impossible. “When I walk, I have to think about every single step, which is annoying and frustrating,” she told People.

Today, she describes her symptoms as manageable. “It takes a fighting attitude to deal with all this. This disease can absolutely take over your life if you let it.”