Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy is a condition that primarily affects muscles used for movement (skeletal muscles) and the heart (cardiac muscle). Among the earliest features of this disorder are joint deformities called contractures. Contractures restrict the movement of certain joints, most often the elbows, ankles, and neck, and usually become noticeable in early childhood. Most affected individuals also experience muscle weakness and wasting that worsen slowly over time, beginning in muscles of the upper arms and lower legs and later also affecting muscles in the shoulders and hips.
Almost all people with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy develop heart problems by adulthood. In many cases, these heart problems are abnormalities of the electrical signals that control the heartbeat (cardiac conduction defects) and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). If untreated, these abnormalities can lead to a sensation of fluttering or pounding in the chest (palpitations), an unusually slow heartbeat (bradycardia), fainting (syncope), heart failure, and an increased risk of sudden death.
Researchers have identified several types of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy that are distinguished by their pattern of inheritance: X-linked, autosomal dominant, and autosomal recessive. The types usually have similar signs and symptoms, although a small percentage of people with the autosomal dominant form experience heart problems without any weakness or wasting of skeletal muscles.
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