Is Multiple System Atrophy A Serious Condition?

Multiple System Atrophy also known as MSA is a serious neurological problem that reflects various symptoms such as poor co-ordination, interrupted sleep, lack of control on blood pressure, bladder dysfunction and so on. Researchers believe that multiple system atrophy is a genetic problem, which means that the problems pass from one generation to another. It is also believed that environmental factors are also considered to be a contributory factor in developing MSA, however; no valid proof supporting this logic. (1) (2)

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The symptoms of the multiple system atrophy varies from one individual to another depending on which part of the brain is affect and to what extent it is affected.

Is Multiple System Atrophy A Serious Condition & How Is It Treated?

Symptoms can be broadly classified into three categories Parkinsonism, loss of coordination and break down of internal body processes. In Parkinsonism, the symptoms closely resemble the symptoms of Parkinson disease such as stiff muscles, unable to maintain right posture, lose balance etc. Some of the common symptoms experienced by almost all the patients include-

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Distinguishing Features Of Multiple System Atrophy

The basic similarity between multiple system atrophy and Parkinson’s disease is that both these health problems are categorized by the deposit of a special type of protein in the nervous system. Name of this protein is alpha-synuclein and it affects the cells that contribute in producing neurotransmitter controlling the motor nerves. This leads to the breakdown of many body functions controlled by motor nerve.

There are some prominent aspects that distinguish the course and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy. Multiple system atrophy affects various different areas of brain, like cerebellum this ultimately affects the coordination centers and the autonomic nervous system.

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Treatment For Multiple System Atrophy

Till date no effective treatment has be identified for curing multiple system atrophy completely. However, there are some effective ways by which the painful symptoms of the problem can be managed or reduced. (3) As a part of treatment doctors recommends the following:

Medications For Multiple System Atrophy

Medications containing corticosteroid fludrocortisones are prescribed to patient, this helps in increasing the blood pressure of the body by retaining the water and salt. Medication containing Mestinon increases the blood pressure of the body when the individual is in standing position, but it does not affect the blood pressure when the individual is lying down or sleeping.

Midodrine is also very effective in increasing blood pressure, but it is prescribed by doctors only in very conditions because this medication can instantly increase the pressure even when the patient is sleeping. Doctor suggests not sleeping for at least for four hours after taking the medication.

Food and Drug association can approved the use of droxidopa for curing this neurological problem. Some of the common side effects of this medication are nausea, headache, and fatigue and so on.

As discussed above the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is similar to that to multiple system atrophy. Hence, the medications effective for treating Parkinson’s disease can also be used for treating multiple system atrophy, but it is always recommended to consult a doctor before taking any medicine. This is so because it is mandatory that all patients with multiple system atrophy will respond to Parkinson’s medications. There is a high possibility that the medications may become less effective in due course of time.

Pacemaker For Multiple System Atrophy

Depending on the condition doctors may also recommend implant to pacemaker in heart. This pacemaker can rapidly increase the heart bear rate which in turn can increase the blood pressure to a great extent.

Breathlessness For Multiple System Atrophy

Patients who face difficulty in chewing or swallowing food are advised to take soft food. If the problem of breathlessness or difficulty in swallowing continues then a feeding or a breathing tube is inserted in the body through surgery. Patients who are in the advance stage of multiple system atrophy are required to implant a tube that will directly transfer food to stomach.

References:

  1. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/multiple-system-atrophy
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200496/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27787721

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 13, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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