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Lifestyle Changes For Multiple System Atrophy

Multiple system atrophy or MSA is a rare neurological disease that causes impairment of involuntary functions of the body. It is a progressive disease that slowly degrades the autonomic nervous system.1 Its symptoms include low blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, digestion problems, abnormal bladder function, and many more. Its symptoms are similar to Parkinson’s disease that involves poor balance, muscle spasms, and others. This disease cannot be cured and can cause life-threatening consequences. Certain lifestyle changes can help in reducing the symptoms of multiple system atrophy.

Lifestyle Changes For Multiple System Atrophy

The lifestyle changes that can help to manage symptoms of multiple system atrophy are-

Management Of Blood Pressure– multiple system atrophy causes a drop in blood pressure when you rise up from the bed or when you lie down. It can be managed if little salt intake is increased. It is also advised to drink plenty of fluids. Increase in salt and fluid intake may increase blood volume thereby raising blood pressure. Intake of coffee and caffeinated fluids helps in the rise of the blood pressure. Elastic stockings are worn up to waist also prevent the sudden drop of blood pressure.2

Elevation Of The Head Of The Bed– blood pressure can be regulated by raising the head of the bed up to 30 degrees. It is helpful to raise blood pressure in sleep. Getting up from reclining position also helps to increase the blood pressure.

Diet Modification– bowel movements are affected by multiple system atrophy due to autonomic failure. This causes constipation. Diet modification may help in combating such movements. Adding fiber in the diet can relieve constipation. Over-the-counter laxatives are helpful in constipation. It is advisable to consume small low-carbohydrate meals to reduce bowel problems.

Avoiding Heat– exposure to high temperature may cause too much loss of fluid through sweating in multiple system atrophy. It may lead to lowering of blood pressure. So, it is advised to stay in air-conditioned rooms in hot weather if you have multiple system atrophy.3

Regular Exercises– multiple system atrophy causes stiffness and spasticity in the muscles. So, regular exercises can reduce muscle spasms and increase the strength of the muscles. It also helps in reducing stiffness in the muscles. The exercises should low to moderate in intensity.

Multiple System Atrophy Types

Multiple system atrophy affects both males and females equally in their age of 50 years. In most cases, patients usually die in 7-10 years after diagnosis. It is of two types-

MSA-C– it involves cerebellum and it leads to loss of coordination and balance.

MSA-P– its symptoms are very similar to Parkinson disease. In this type, tremor does not appear always in each case and it is not relieved by levodopa as it does in Parkinson’s disease.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare life-threatening disorder that causes slow degeneration of the autonomic nervous system. It results in failure of the autonomic nervous system. It is responsible to control various involuntary functions such as blood pressure, bladder function, breathing, and muscle control. Its symptoms are very similar to Parkinson’s disease that includes slow movement, poor muscle coordination, poor balance, and rigid muscles.

Multiple system atrophy affects men and women equally belonging to all racial groups. The symptoms of multiple system atrophy represent itself in the age of 50 years that progress to life-threatening consequences in 5- 10 years. In the late stages, it may lead to loss of motor function and you may get restricted to bed. It may result in pneumonia and you may die of respiratory and cardiac failure.


Multiple system atrophy is a rare disease that affects nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. There is no cure for the disease and its symptoms can be managed with treatment and lifestyle modification. Management of blood pressure, elevation of the head of the bed, diet alterations, and other lifestyle changes discussed above.


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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 3, 2019

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