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Can dystonia affect muscles such as the heart or diaphragm?

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Dystonia can affect breathing in several ways. Severe neck dystonia can cause difficulty breathing when the upper airway is partially closed off. Dystonia involving the vocal cords can potentially cause shortness of breath when the vocal cords close tight, but in general the tightness is present primarily when speaking. The act of breathing involves muscles between the ribs and a large muscle called the diaphragm. Dystonia can cause stiffness in the muscles between the ribs and can cause a sensation or shortness of breath. Occasionally, the diaphragm can also be affected. Finally, when a person with dystonia has involvement of the spine, twisting of the torso can limit how much the lungs can expand when breathing, and this can potentially cause shortness of breath. The heart muscle is not affected by dystonia. Can you die from dystonia? In the overwhelming majority of people with dystonia, it does not shorten life expectancy or result in death. In very severe, generalized dystonia, ... more
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