Warm Weather May Affect Cognition in Patients with MS

Research to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011, found that warmer weather may make it harder for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to learn, remember or process information. “Studies have linked warmer weather to increased disease activity and lesions in people with MS, but this is the first research to show a possible link between warm weather and cognition, or thinking skills, in people with the disease,” said study author Victoria Leavitt, PhD, with the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey.

The study consisted of 40 people with MS and 40 people without MS. Each patient was given tests that measured learning, memory and the speed at which they processed information. Those patients with MS also underwent brain scans, and the daily temperature on the days the tests were taken was also recorded. Results showed that patients with MS scored 70% better on thinking tests during cooler days compared to warmer days of the year. The reason why temperature changes might affect MS patients’ thinking isn’t known, but Leavitt said one possible explanation is that the underlying mechanisms that regulate the body’s reaction to heat may work less effectively in people with MS.

“With more research, this information might help guide people with MS in life decisions and their doctors with clinical treatment. Scientists may also consider the effect of warmer weather on cognition when conducting clinical trials,” said Dr. Leavitt. Implications for this data are far reaching and could impact choice of lifestyle or location for patients with MS. These findings also suggest that researchers should consider this temperature effect when doing baseline cognitive testing.


MedicalNewsToday – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/216843.php

TucsonHealth101 – http://www.tucsonhealth101.com/news/warm-weather-may-cloud-thinking-in-ms-patients/