What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a type of muscular dystrophy that causes muscle wasting and weakness due to a lack of a protein called dystrophin. If the body does not have enough dystrophin, muscle cells become damaged. Over time, this causes problems with movements such as getting up from the floor and walking.1

Where does DMD occur?

DMD affects all muscles of the body – including muscles in the arms and legs, as well as the heart muscle and those involved in breathing. This can lead to problems with:1

Breathing and coughing
Heart function

Is DMD fatal?

DMD causes muscle weakness that gets worse over time. This means that walking, standing and everyday tasks become increasingly difficult. Eventually, the muscles that control the heart and lungs stop working, although this typically takes many years.2,3

While the progression and severity of symptoms of DMD differ for every individual, most will experience some of the stages shown in the figure.2–6

What is the life expectancy of people with DMD?

While there is no cure for DMD at the present time, people with DMD are living for longer than ever before. With the right care, people with DMD may live into their 30s and beyond.2,5,7

With the right care, people with DMD may live into their 30s and beyond5,7

1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Muscular dystrophy: hope through research. Available at https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Muscular-Dystrophy-Hope-Through-Research [last accessed March 2021].
2. Goemans N, et al. Eur Neurol Rev. 2014;9:78–82.
3. Birnkrant DJ, et al. Lancet Neurol. 2018;17:251–267 [Part 1].
4. Noritz GH, et al. Pediatrics. 2013;131:e2016–e2027.
5. van Ruiten HJA, et al. Arch Dis Child. 2014;99:1074–1077.
6. Bushby K, et al. Lancet Neurol. 2010;9:77–93.
7. Muscular Dystrophy Association. What is DMD? Available at https://www.mda.org/sites/default/files/2019/11/MDA_DMD_Fact_Sheet_Nov_2019.pdf [last accessed March 2021].

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