Makomed's Weblog

Shy-Drager’s Syndrome – 7 year Life Expectancy

Posted on: September 5, 2008

This week I had a patient whose blood pressure kept jumping up and down the mark. When this happens, the nurse gets a little nervous but simply retakes it again. If it doesn’t bode well, the nurse either reads it as she sees fit, or she takes a guess to what might the blood pressure be by averaging out the patient’s previous readings so she can move on to the next patient.

This has happened to Ms. Smith (not her real name), which is why it took her doctors years to diagnose her with Shy-Drager’s syndrome. There’s another disease called Huntington’s in which the body’s nerves degenerate and you die a slow death, but I’ve never come across Shy-Drager’s before.

Apparently it’s some sort of umbrella term for the malfunction and decline of multiple body systems. There is no hard and fast test to make the confirmation, but it presents as a orthostatic hypotension.

Orthostatic hypotension is when your body can’t compensate for the change in position from sitting to standing. Usually, the body is quite adept at “pulling the strings” in your brain and cardiovascular system to work together to “even you out” when you stand up after sitting or lying down for a while. But in Shy-Drager’s, the affected person’s body can’t work together well enough to do that.

Well, this patient of mine is quite pleasant–except for the fact that she is extremely anxious and agitated–and I can’t blame her. What do you do if you knew that you only had a few years to live, since most affected patients succumb to pneumonia? I wonder what she does for a living because she has a good apartment I hope her family knows her situation since she lives alone.

Would it have been better just not knowing your diagnosis if there is no cure?

If you have this, please do not be afraid. Get your priorities in order and set up a plan. You can start here.


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