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What is muscular dystrophy?

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Quick Answer

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause a loss of muscle mass and also cause the muscles that control movement to progressively weaken. Some forms of muscular dystrophy affect the heart and other organs, explains Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

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People with muscular dystrophy have irregular genes that interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. Irregular genes can be inherited, although some occur spontaneously in a developing embryo and are passed on to the next generation, reports Mayo Clinic.

There are nine major types of muscular dystrophy, including myotonic, Duchenne, Becker, limb-girdle and facioscapulohumeral. The remaining types are congenital, oculopharyngeal, distal and Emery-Dreifuss. Myotonic muscular dystrophy affects both men and women, and is the most common form of the disease in adults. This form usually appears any time from infancy and early childhood into adulthood. However, some forms of the disease don?t appear until adulthood, explains Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

Some people experience only mild symptoms of the disease and may live a relatively normal life. Others with muscular dystrophy may develop rapid and severe muscle weakness and wasting, and may die as teenagers or young adults. Muscular Dystrophy may cause a person to have trouble breathing or swallowing and to lose his ability to walk. Medications and therapy help to manage the disease, although there is no known cure for it, as of 2105, states Mayo Clinic.

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