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Multiple Sclerosis Study Documents Negative Effect of Warmer Weather On Cognition

Discussion in 'Multiple Sclerosis' started by Firestormm, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    Here's the research:

    Here's the article: Science Daily: March 13 2012:

    'Kessler Foundation scientists have shown for the first time that outdoor temperature significantly affects cognitive functioning in multiple sclerosis (MS).

    While it is recognized that disease activity increases during warmer months, this is the first study to document that cognition also fluctuates.

    During warmer outdoor temperatures patients with MS performed worse on tasks involving processing speed and memory. An estimated 50 to 65% of people with MS experience problems with thinking, learning and remembering that can be disabling.

    According to the results, cognitive performance may be a more sensitive indicator of subclinical disease activity than traditional assessments.

    In the study, which spanned the calendar year, 40 individuals with MS and 40 people without MS underwent cognitive assessment of memory and processing speed.

    People with MS scored 70 percent higher on cooler days; no association was found for individuals without MS. Funding was provided by the National MS Society and the NIH.

    According to Victoria M. Leavitt, Ph.D., research scientist, and the study's principal investigator, these findings have implications for patients, clinicians and researchers.

    "This information is relevant to making life decisions and choosing therapies and evaluating their effects," said Dr. Leavitt. "Outdoor temperatures may be an important consideration when designing and conducting clinical trials, many of which span six months."

    For example, taking baseline measurements during warmer months could inflate positive findings. The study's co-investigators are James F. Sumowski, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Nancy Chiaravalloti, Ph.D., Director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, and John DeLuca, Ph.D., VP for Research.

    Kessler Foundation is nationally and internationally known for cognitive rehabilitation research in MS and traumatic brain injury.

    Its neuroscience research supports the theory of cognitive reserve, ie, people with MS who lead intellectually enriching lives are less likely to experience cognitive decline.

    A recent publication documented changes in brain activity on fMRI associated with effective memory retraining in people with MS.'

    Temperature is a problem for me too (external as well as internal) but it is good to read that a study has linked this to cognition specifically.

    I wonder how a similar study for ME would compare? Unfortunately, I don't have access to the full paper, but it would be very similar I should think, if not more marked for those with ME.

    I mean this looked at ability to do tasks so I would guess exactly the same study methods could be repeated.

    What would be even more interesting (layman here) is to shove us under some scan or other whilst we tried the tasks in the heat!!

    N.B. I find humidity (moist heat) far worse to manage cognitively than dry heat. Weird, huh?!
  2. Jenny

    Jenny Senior Member

    FWIW I'm much better in the heat. 28 degrees is my ideal temperature. Dry better than moist though.

    rosie26 likes this.
  3. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

    Near Cognac, France
    Very timely Firestorm as it just hit 25 degrees C here today and I'm already suffering and dreading the summer.

    Temperatures above the late teens just leave me unable to function physically and mentally and yes, humidity is the worst.

    I was browsing the MS forums a while back when looking into heat shock proteins and there are many threads on heat intolerance/sensitivity.

    I also found in the past (and very much more so now since onset) that I got very red faced for a long time in the heat or following exercise, even when I was very fit.

    An informal poll on one of the MS forums produced a figure of 80% reporting this symptoms.

    Perhaps we all have a 'tomatoform disorder'.

    FWIW, while heat intolerance may co vary with disease activity in MS, both may be due to the same underlying mechanism rather than heat per se exacerbating the symptoms (I believe they refer to this as pseudoexacerbation).

    My guess (and thats all it is) in both MS and ME/CFS is high levels of oxidative stress. In our case potentially an insufficiency of protective heat shock proteins, leading to high ROS, mito and endothelial dysfunction.

    Oxidative stress and reduced cerebral perfusion would certainly explain the cognitive problems which are a recognised symptom of heatstroke anyway.
  4. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

    Southern USA
    Heat is a trigger for my POTS and was bad for my CFS. The CFS is great now, but heat is a trigger for a lot of illnesses.
  5. redo

    redo Senior Member

    Hmmm. Fascinating. People with RA tend to get a lot better when it's summer, or hot. I wonder how a ME study on heat/cognitive abilities would turn out.

    I am among those who get a little better when it's hot. E.g. a hot bath.
  6. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    To my knowledge, the studies on ME thus far have related to internal temperature regulation, and not to the effects of external temperature on either cognitive function or - for that matter - mobility.

    I can't see why they can't do the same study for ME as for MS and - like I said - it would be perhaps more interesting to see what effect external temperature has on our brain function; but I take your points about other biological functions too.

    Thing is - so what? I mean what/how does it help the patient or medical professionals to know this? Does this knowledge lend credibility? I mean I know of course and have learned to adapt my environment accordingly, but how does a similar study to the one above for ME - help? Perhaps they will recommend I move to Antarctica?

    Tomatoform Disorder - Marco you made me look that one up!! :D :D
  7. WillowJ

    WillowJ คภภเє ɠรค๓թєl

    WA, USA
    hot weather is bad for me, but I was heat intolerant even before I had ME. some of my family members are as well (genetic?), the sick ones even before they were sick also.

    cold weather makes me feel worse/more pain, but it doesn't make me as malaised and stupid as heat does. dry heat isn't a whole lot better than moist heat.
  8. Foggy


    I have a friend who has MS and she can't tolerate the heat from both a mental and physical aspect. In WA (Aust?) MS sufferers can get a reverse air con rebate/subsidy to help with their illness etc.

    I'm extremely heat intolerant - my ideal temp range is 18-21C.

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