Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of genetic muscle-wasting disorders. All muscular dystrophies cause muscle weakness, but life expectancy can vary dramatically between types of muscular dystrophy. While some cases may be mild and progress slowly, others can cause severe muscle weakness and disability. Some people with muscular dystrophy may have reduced life expectancy while others have a normal lifespan.
Becker muscular dystrophy
Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Until recently, children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) did not often live beyond their teens. However, improvements in cardiac and respiratory care mean that life expectancy is increasing, with many DMD patients reaching their 30s, and some living into their 40s and 50s.
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy
The progression of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy can vary between patients. For some, the disease progresses quickly, leading to disability and affecting life expectancy. For others, disease progression is slow and may not affect life expectancy. Current research indicates that the age of onset of the disease may be predictive of how rapidly the disease will progress, with patients showing symptoms in childhood being the most severely affected.
There are two types of myotonic dystrophy (DM): DM1 and DM2. DM1 is the more rapidly progressing form of the disease, with reduced life expectancy due to cardiac and respiratory problems. Limited information is available on the life expectancy of patients with DM2 but because this form of the disease progresses slowly, it may not affect life expectancy at all.
Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy
Although progressive, oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy is not thought to affect life expectancy.
Tibial muscular dystrophy
Patients with tibial muscular dystrophy usually begin developing symptoms between the ages of 40 and 60. The disease progresses slowly, with many patients experiencing mild mobility problems later in life. Life expectancy is not thought to be affected by this form of muscular dystrophy.
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