Cardiovascular risk factors in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: A cross-sectional analysis from the MS-STAT2 randomized controlled trial.


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: There is increasing evidence that cardiovascular risk (CVR) contributes to disability progression in multiple sclerosis (MS). CVR is particularly prevalent in secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and can be quantified through validated composite CVR scores. The aim was to examine the cross-sectional relationships between excess modifiable CVR, whole and regional brain atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging, and disability in patients with SPMS. METHODS: Participants had SPMS, and data were collected at enrolment into the MS-STAT2 trial. Composite CVR scores were calculated using the QRISK3 software. Prematurely achieved CVR due to modifiable risk factors was expressed as QRISK3 premature CVR, derived through reference to the normative QRISK3 dataset and expressed in years. Associations were determined with multiple linear regressions. RESULTS: For the 218 participants, mean age was 54 years and median Expanded Disability Status Scale was 6.0. Each additional year of prematurely achieved CVR was associated with a 2.7 mL (beta coefficient; 95% confidence interval 0.8-4.7; p = 0.006) smaller normalized whole brain volume. The strongest relationship was seen for the cortical grey matter (beta coefficient 1.6 mL per year; 95% confidence interval 0.5-2.7; p = 0.003), and associations were also found with poorer verbal working memory performance. Body mass index demonstrated the strongest relationships with normalized brain volumes, whilst serum lipid ratios demonstrated strong relationships with verbal and visuospatial working memory performance. CONCLUSIONS: Prematurely achieved CVR is associated with lower normalized brain volumes in SPMS. Future longitudinal analyses of this clinical trial dataset will be important to determine whether CVR predicts future disease worsening.