Other Names for this Disease
- Friedreich's ataxia
- Hereditary spinal ataxia
- Hereditary spinal sclerosis
Other symptoms that may occur include chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. These symptoms are the result of various forms of heart disease that often accompany Friedreich ataxia, such as cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart), myocardial fibrosis (formation of fiber-like material in the muscles of the heart), and cardiac failure. Heart rhythm abnormalities such as tachycardia (fast heart rate) and heart block (impaired conduction of cardiac impulses within the heart) are also common. About 20 percent of people with Friedreich ataxia develop carbohydrate intolerance and 10 percent develop diabetes mellitus. Some people lose hearing or eyesight.
The rate of progression varies from person to person. Generally, within 10 to 20 years after the appearance of the first symptoms, the person is confined to a wheelchair, and in later stages of the disease individuals become completely incapacitated. Life expectancy may be affected, and many people with Friedreich ataxia die in adulthood from the associated heart disease, the most common cause of death. However, some people with less severe symptoms of Friedreich ataxia live much longer, sometimes into their sixties or seventies.
The Human Phenotype Ontology provides the following list of signs and symptoms for Friedreich ataxia. If the information is available, the table below includes how often the symptom is seen in people with this condition. You can use the MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary to look up the definitions for these medical terms.
The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) has collected information on how often a sign or symptom occurs in a condition. Much of this information comes from Orphanet, a European rare disease database. The frequency of a sign or symptom is usually listed as a rough estimate of the percentage of patients who have that feature.
The frequency may also be listed as a fraction. The first number of the fraction is how many people had the symptom, and the second number is the total number of people who were examined in one study. For example, a frequency of 25/25 means that in a study of 25 people all patients were found to have that symptom. Because these frequencies are based on a specific study, the fractions may be different if another group of patients are examined.
Sometimes, no information on frequency is available. In these cases, the sign or symptom may be rare or common.
- Friedreich's Ataxia Fact Sheet. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) . August 2011; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/friedreichs_ataxia/detail_friedreichs_ataxia.htm. Accessed 1/23/2012.