Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurological disease of undetermined cause that is marked by symptoms affecting movement, blood pressure and other body functions. The disease involves the structures of the brain responsible for balance and automatic functions like bladder control and blood pressure. Symptoms may include:
- Slowed movements
- Loss of balance
- Low blood pressure
- Impotence in men
- Urinary difficulty
- Speech and swallowing difficulties
- Blurred vision
The mean age of onset is 55 years of age. Men are affected more frequently than women. Symptoms progress over time and their distribution, onset, and severity vary.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Multiple system atrophy is diagnosed on the basis of detailed physical and neurological examinations. There is no cure for multiple system atrophy; however, treatment of symptoms can help improve patients' quality of life. Medications used to treat Parkinson's disease are often used to treat the MSA; however, as multiple system atrophy progresses, medications become less effective. Occupational, physical, and speech therapy can help with functional and daily living issues.
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