What Is Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA)?

Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA) is the name of a family of progressive neurodegenerative diseases formerly known as Shy Drager Syndrome, Sporadic Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy and Striatonigral Degeneration.

Multiple Systems Atrophy is characterized by failure of the autonomous nervous system which causes different symptoms:

– Orthostatic Hypotension

– Erectile Dysfunction

– Constipation or Diarrhea

– Neurogenic Bladder

– Lightheadedness

– Dysphagia

The other symptoms are of the extrapiramidal system:

– Parkinson-Like Tremor

– Rigidity

– Dysarthria

– Ataxia

– Apraxia

And there are also symptoms associated with the cognition areas of the brain:

– Dementia

Multiple Systems Atrophy affects both men and women. Its symptoms usually start in the fifth decade of life. Most people affected by this syndrome do not live more than ten years.
Once the symptoms begin, there is no remission.

There is no known treatment up to the date this review was written. Drugs that are used to treat Parkinson symptoms can be of help (levodopa and others); however, striatonigral degeneration does not respond well.

When people develop dysphagia or any other problems that limit their capacity to swallow, the a feeding tube can be used. Sometimes even surgery can help with a Gastrostomy to avoid the complications associated with feeding tubes.

Some people even develop breathing difficulties due to muscle rigidity, Dystonia, and continuous bronchoaspiration. When these problems occur, a tracheostomy is advised.
When they have neurogenic bladder, a catheter must be used to ensure urinary flow or they could develop kidney disease.

All of these factors can lead to infections which are the main cause of death among these patients.