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Mitochondrial myopathies are a group of neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for producing most of the energy that's needed for our cells to function. Nerve cells in the brain and muscles appear to be particularly damaged when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs because nerve cells and muscles require a great amount of energy.
The prognosis for these disorders ranges in severity from progressive weakness to death. Most mitochondrial myopathies occur before the age of 20, and often begin with exercise intolerance or muscle weakness. During physical activity, muscles may become easily fatigued or weak. Muscle cramping is rare, but may occur.
Common mitochondrial myopathies:
Myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers
Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy with lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes
Symptoms of mitochondrial myopathies:
Muscle weakness or exercise intolerance
Heart failure or rhythm disturbances
Limited mobility of the eyes
Vomiting, and seizures
Nausea, headache, and breathlessness are also associated with these disorders.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. www.ninds.nih.gov
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