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Is multiple sclerosis (MS) fatal?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is not contagious or fatal. While quality of life is often changed for those diagnosed with MS, the disease does not significantly affect length of life.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

Although multiple sclerosis (MS) has varying progression, overall, people with MS have just a slightly shorter life expectancy than the general population. Survival rates are linked directly to the type of MS as well as disability. The majority of people with MS die from secondary causes such as problems with the kidneys or lungs. However, there are a few rare forms of multiple sclerosis that are very aggressive and can be fatal shortly after diagnosis. 

Most people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. They are more likely to die from other causes, such as heart disease, stroke, or cancer, than from MS. Death caused directly by MS is highly unusual. However, there are variants of MS that can be very aggressive and potentially shorten life. These are not the norm. MS tends to affect quality of life, not quantity of life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.