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What is the prognosis for MSA?

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Quick Answer

The prognosis for MSA, also known as multiple system atrophy, is poor, according to MedlinePlus. Most patients die within seven to nine years after receiving the diagnosis.

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Full Answer

MSA is a rare condition similar to Parkinson's disease, MedlinePlus explains. MSA, however, is much more widespread in the body than Parkinson's, affecting essential functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate and sweating.

The condition develops gradually and primarily in men over the age of 60, MedlinePlus reports. Doctors do not know what causes MSA.

Patients experience a wide spectrum of symptoms, from tremors to loss of motor skills, MedlinePlus says. Patients eventually lose the ability to walk and begin experiencing mental decline.

Doctors diagnose patients with MSA after ruling out other similar disease, MedlinePlus describes. Often physicians prescribe blood and urine tests as well as an MRI of the patient's head.

Because MSA has no cure, doctors focus primarily on treating symptoms, MedlinePlus explains. Sometimes doctors install pacemakers to regulate heart rate. Doctors may also prescribe medications to help control tremors, balance and movement.

Other medications doctors often prescribe for MSA patients include blood pressure drugs, MedlinePlus says. Men may take drugs to counteract impotency. A diet in high fiber helps alleviate constipation due to MSA.

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