With 4.15 million cases across the globe, COVID-19 is at the forefront of discussion. Knowledge about the viral pandemic continues to grow each and every day. Yet there are still many questions about how COVID-19 might impact you, especially if you have a specific medical condition. Now, doctors are sharing their advice for patients with Becker or Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Check out their suggestions on how to stay safe and healthy.
Altogether, there are nine subsets of muscular dystrophy. These genetic disorders cause widespread muscle loss and weakness. This is because gene mutations stop the production or use of proteins needed for muscle health.
Becker Muscular Dystrophy
Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) results from a mutated DMD gene. This mutation causes an issue with dystrophin, a protein that normally protects, stabilizes, and strengthens muscle fibers. Without enough dystrophin, muscle cells degenerate and die.
Becker MD disproportionately affects men. This is because women need two copies of a defective gene to inherit the disorder, while men only require one. Progressive muscle weakness and loss is the main symptom. However, additional symptoms include fatigue, poor motor function, and movement issues.
BMD is similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy; however, people with BMD offer experience later symptom onset and slower overall disease progression. Learn more about Becker muscular dystrophy.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Just like those with BMD, people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are unable to make dystrophin. In this form of MD, the condition can progress to quadriplegia, with loss of heart and respiratory function.
Symptom onset usually occurs by age six. Symptoms include fatigue, learning disabilities, difficulty moving or walking, poor motor function, and muscle weakness that begins in the lower extremities. Learn more about Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Currently, the intersection between muscular dystrophy and COVID-19 is unknown. But people with MD usually use immunosuppressive medications, as well as experience some heart or lung issues. As a result, and because COVID-19 is believed to cause respiratory failure, people with MD are thought to be more at risk of developing a severe reaction to the virus.
First, doctors advise that patients with Becker and Duchenne muscular dystrophy continue any routine health assessments to track their health status via telemedicine.
Next, patients should follow social distancing guidelines. This means isolating at home and avoiding contact with others. If it is necessary to leave the house, wear a mask, stay at least six feet away from others, and wash hands with soap and water.
In terms of medications, patients with Duchenne and Becker MD are told to continue any prescribed medications. If any adverse reactions occur, patients can speak with their doctor about modifications or dosage changes. Some research suggests that COVID-19 can cause problems with angiotensin II, a protein hormone that regulates blood pressure. However, patients taking angiotensin receptor blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors for cardiac disease should keep taking their medications. Infusions of eteplirsen, golodirsen, or viltolarsen should be done at home.
If patients contract COVID-19, they should bring their own ventilators or respiratory devices to the hospital. Next, hydroxychloroquine should not be used for treatment.
Find their full suggestions published in Muscle & Nerve.