Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare disease. It causes progressive damage to the nervous system. MSA is sometimes called a Parkinson’s plus syndrome because many of the symptoms are similar. MSA has debilitating effects on the body. Once symptoms develop the average life expectancy is ten years or less.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A neurological exam will be done. You will likely be referred to a specialist. Neurologists focus solely on the nervous system. Diagnosing MSA can be difficult. It usually means ruling out other diseases. For example, MSA can look like Parkinson’s disease but it generally progresses faster.
—test that uses magnetic waves to form an image of structures inside the body; used to rule out other nervous system diseases and check for abnormalities in the brain that suggest MSA
Tests of autonomic function, such as measuring your heart rate and blood pressure under different circumstances, your response to a medicine called
, and an
(a test using a needle to assess your muscles)
There is no specific treatment for MSA. Symptoms may be treated. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:
Various medications may be used to treat the symptoms of MSA:
—used to treat Parkinson’s disease; may be used to treat muscle rigidity
Increasing dietary salt and fluids, compression stockings, elevating the head of the bed, and medications that raise blood pressure may be used to treat hypotension
Other drugs may be used to treat the symptoms of
, urinary, or erectile dysfunction
Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Kasper DL, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL, and Loscalzo J, Eds.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine
.17th edition. United States:The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008:Chapter 370, Diseases of the Central Nervous System.
Jankovic JJ, Tolosa E, Eds.
Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders.
4th edition. Baltimore:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2002:Chapter 13, Secondary Parkinsonism.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a