Over 55 ? Get Checked For Multiple System Atrophy

Multiple System Atrophy

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a rare, sporadic and progressive neurodegenerative disorder representing closely related clinic-pathological symptoms. It affects that part of autonomic nervous system (ANS) that controls involuntary action as well as portion that regulates voluntary function. Therefore, the disorder affects heart beat, bladder control, peristaltic movement (affecting involuntary movements) at one hand and ataxia (affecting voluntary muscle movements) on the other hand.

In this way, it affects ‘multiple systems’ at the same time and thus suitably named as multiple system atrophy. It is very similar but distinct to other familiar neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease (PD). Although in most cases, persons suffering from MSA develop Parkinsonism at some stage (bradykinesia with rigidity). Even though in the past, there were different clinical symptoms with names specifying the similar or identical disorders like Shy-Drager syndrome (SDS), Striatonigral degeneration (SND) and Olivo ponto cerebellar atrophy (OPCA).Multiple System Atrophy

Later it was felt by medical practitioners and research personnel to resolve this ambiguity. Since the year 1995-1996, onwards it was decided to designate these disorders with common nomenclature as Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). Depending upon the symptomatic features it is designated as MSAP (SND in older nomenclature) if parkinsonian features predominates or MSACb (older nomenclature OPCA) if a cerebellar feature predominates. The designation Shy-Drager syndrome has lost practical meaning and is no longer in effective use.

Signs and symptoms of Multiple System Atrophy(MSA)

Loss of motor controls, tremor, stiffness in muscles, change in gait (walking pattern).

Posture problems, loss of balance, loss of muscle co-ordination.                          

Orthostatic hypotension-sudden fall in blood pressure (B.P.) while standing, causing dizziness, black-out, fainting, blurred vision.

Difficulty in changing facial expression,closing of mouth, mask like face appearance.

Loss or absence of bladder and bowel control.                                                      

Difficulty in writing, reading, change in handwriting.                                          

Impotency in male(mainly ED-erectile dysfunction).                                             

Difficulty in speaking, slow or slurred speech, speaking at relatively higher or lower volume than normal.

Sleep apnea, disrupted sleeping pattern, loss of sweating.


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