What is the Prognosis of Friedreich's Ataxia?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 07, 2014

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Quick Bites

  • Friedreich's ataxia is a genetic disorder.
  • It causes certain nerve cells to deteriorate over time.
  • The prognosis of the condition depends on many factors.
  • When symptoms start, complications and medical care determine outlook.

Friedreich's ataxia is a genetic disorder that causes certain nerve cells to deteriorate over time. The disorder may affect the heart, certain bones and cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.


friedreichs ataxia prognosis


One of the characteristic of the illness is walking difficulty. Those with Friedreich's ataxia have shaky movements of the legs (called gait ataxia) during childhood or early adolescence. Over time, patients may develop bony deformities of the spine and feet. Loss of sensation in the limbs, speech problems, abnormal eye movements, heart disease and diabetes are among other complications.



As of now, there is no specific treatment for Friedreich's ataxia. The treatment strategies focus on relieving symptoms, keeping the condition from getting worse and prolonging life. The treatment for Friedreich's ataxia may include physical therapy, occupational therapy and surgery to correct bony deformities

Medication for heart disease, beta-blockers, such as metoprolol (Lopressor), and calcium channel blockers, such as verapamil (sold under several brand names) are also part of the treatment. Health care providers may also use antioxidant substances, such as vitamin E, to delay disease progression. Friedreich's ataxia treatment may also focus on treatment to lower blood sugar and a modified diet, together with oral anti-diabetic drugs or insulin.

Friedreich's Ataxia Prognosis



The prognosis of Friedreich's ataxia depends on many factors, particularly when symptoms start, complications and medical care. Typically, people with the disorder are confined to a wheelchair within 15 to 20 years after their symptoms begin. Sometimes, death in adulthood is common (usually from heart disease). Good medical care is the key for those with less severe condition; it can help people live into their sixties or seventies.


Image source: Gettyimages

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  • Lisa21 Aug 2012

    My little brother was 29 when he passed away from this disease.He had been diagnosed at 18,but was showing symptoms as early as 6yrs old.No doctor could diagnose him,until my parents decided to take him to MAYO clinic.My advice to people would be, make the most of every day.We had 10 yrs with him from the time he was diagnosed til his death.My brother was an inspiration to others.In the end,he had to use a wheelchair but he did not allow that to stop him from having fun.