Shy-Drager syndrome is a rare and progressive neurological disorder. The condition has several other names, including sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy and striatonigral degeneration. Each of these terms has fallen out of use in favor of “multiple system atrophy.” In most cases, the disease worsens rapidly over several years. Shy-Drager syndrome primarily affects people over the age of 30, though it is most prevalent in individuals in their mid-50s. Individuals with the condition sometimes experience symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, though Shy-Drager syndrome tends to affect more of the body.
Physicians place Shy-Drager syndrome into one of two subdivisions, based on its symptoms. These subdivisions, MSA-C and MSA-P, use the umbrella term of multiple system atrophy rather than Shy-Drager syndrome. MSA-C refers to the cerebellar phenotype and has symptoms involving the brain and coordination. MSA-P refers to the parkinsonian phenotype and the symptoms of Shy-Drager syndrome that closely resemble those of Parkinson’s disease. It is important to note that the classification only refers to which group of symptoms is most prominent when a doctor evaluates a patient. A person with MSA-P will likely have MSA-C symptoms and vice versa. Additionally, both types typically feature postural hypotension, a form of low blood pressure that makes a person feel dizzy when they stand up.
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