Multiple system atrophy is known as an adult condition, which is progressive neurodegenerative disease. In this neurological disorder cell loss occurs in the brain’s olivopontocerebellar structures and the spinal cord. This is a very dangerous disease which is fatal in nature.

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What Causes You To Have Multiple System Atrophy?

As such there is no known cause for MSA i.e. multiple system atrophy. Medical researchers believe that this fatal disorder has an inherited component i.e. it passes from one generation to another. Also, environmental factors play a significant role in the progressive nature of this disease. However, there are valid evidences available to prove this theory. Multiple system atrophy leads to atrophy and deterioration of some portions of the brain that are responsible for regulating some of the internal functions of the body, motor control, digestion etc.

When the damaged brain tissue of an individual suffering from multiple system atrophy is examined under microscope, then it was observed that the nerve cells also known as neurons comprised of very high amount of protein. The name of the protein is alpha-synuclein. Researchers believe that this abnormal level of protein can over expressed with the MSA. (1)

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Diagnosis Of Multiple System Atrophy

Diagnosing MSA is a highly challenging task, this is so because symptoms of multiple system atrophy closely resembles with other health problems. For instance, symptoms like rigid muscles and unsteady walk also occurs when the individual is suffering from Parkinson's disease. This way it becomes difficult for the medical practitioner to diagnose whether the patient is suffering from Parkinson's disease or multiple system atrophy.

Clinical examinations followed by imaging study and tests help doctors in identifying this neurological disorder. Earlier, doctors use to identify the problem solely based on the symptoms, as a result some people were never diagnosed. With time doctors became aware of the disease and started to prescribe physical examination and test to confirm the existence of multiple system atrophy.

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In the initial phase doctors ask the patient about the symptoms and if they suspect multiple system atrophy then they inquire about the family medical history of the patient. Further, they also perform various physical examinations like brain scanning (MRI), blood tests. These examinations help in determining whether brain atrophy or lesions are present or not. Then, they refer the patient to either a neurologist or any other specialist for better diagnosis and treatment.

Tilt Table Test To Diagnose Multiple System Atrophy

This test is performed to know if the patient is having problem with controlling blood pressure level. For conducting this test, patient is asked to lie down on the motorized table and then strapped properly in place. Further, the body id slightly moved upward so that the body in vertical level.

While the test is on the rate beat and the blood pressure is constantly monitored. The findings are noted and later analyzed to identify irregularities of blood pressure and also whether the irregularity is changing position or not.

Tests For Autonomic Functions

Doctors prescribe this test to examine the involuntary functions of the body, this includes a series of tests like:

  • Sweat test to evaluate the perspiration
  • Electrocardiogram to identify the electrical signals of the heart
  • Measuring the blood pressure in both standing and sleeping positions
  • Tests for examining functioning of bowel function and bladder

If the patient is suffering from irregular sleep pattern, especially because of snoring or breading problem then doctors can order sleep laboratory test. This helps in identifying and treating the sleep disorder also known as sleep apnea.

The sad aspect of this multiple system atrophy is that, this neurological disorder is not curable. Treatment can help in minimizing the progression of painful symptoms but at the end the disease leads to death of the individual. Doctors and researchers are trying their best to invent a successful and effective treatment procedure for curing this deadly disease. Individual suffering from this problem should have a positive outlook for the months or weeks left with him/her.

References:

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Multiple-System-Atrophy

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 10, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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